Monday September 12th, 2016

Only Matthews would return from a ruptured Achilles tendon to lead his team in minutes played. His resolve is undeniable. Matthews has forged a career from grit, both in the macro sense as an undrafted player and in the micro sense of working his way through every possession. None of that has changed. Last we saw Matthews, he was doggedly chasing Kevin Durant around the floor, doing all he could to bother a superstar with a seven-inch height advantage. What has changed is the dividends of Matthews’s hard work; try as he might, Matthews could never explode off the dribble or connect on open shots like he did prior to his injury. At his best last season, Matthews was a quality spot shooter and a hard-working defender. That alone isn’t generally enough to rank in the league’s top 100 players. As such, we’re projecting some improvement for Matthews in his second full season back from debilitating injury. To return as quickly as Matthews did shredded all reasonable timetables. To average 34 minutes in 83 total games (between the regular season and playoffs) shattered even optimistic projections. Yet recovering from an Achilles tear—to the extent that one can—takes more time and more rest. This season should mark the return of a more able Matthews, if still one noticeably diminished from his prime years. (Last year: 99)

+ When healthy, Matthews had the balance in his game to make him an ideal complement
+ Utterly relentless
We still don’t quite know how closely Matthews will be able to approximate his prime
Historically, Achilles injuries have not been kind to the careers of NBA players

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