With the news coming down that Eric Bledsoe underwent surgery today for an injury to his right meniscus, I started probing the internet for what that actually means. The info I found was less than helpful. It seems that no two tears are created equal. I did find this article from The Sporting News that showed some of the more recognizable faces who have had this injury recently (note #7).
On one end of the "return spectrum" (not to be confused with the Foucault or Kinsey spectrum) we have Metta World Peace (I still feel ridiculous typing that) who returned from surgery after just two weeks from his injury in March of 2013. He has had issues with his knees lately, having his knee drained twice this season, and has not been effective on the court (23 games / 15 MIN / 5.5 PPG / 0.7 APG / 2.1 RPG). This poor play could be due to the surgery, the system he plays in, the fact he is 34 years old, or simply that he plays for the Lakers.
On the other end of the "return spectrum" we have Derrick Rose. His meniscus injury and ensuing surgeries (plural) have been well documented and do not put a favorable light on the Eric Bledsoe situation. But Chicago just seems to be unlucky for this type of thing (OUCH).
The question is "how long until Bledsoe returns to the court". Referring to the above list, we can see a time table anywhere from 2 weeks - 6 months. That is a wide range to speculate from. It appears that if one is to remove the meniscus entirely a quicker return is possible. A partial removal and a little bit more time is added, and if one is to have the meniscus repaired and issues arise from it, the return can be much much longer.
With the news that Bledsoe should return this year, I took a guess on his timetable for his return. I figure (HUGE GUESS) that he had a partial removal of the meniscus which will result in a return anywhere from 4 - 6 weeks (This is purely speculation on my part given the lack of information I have found, don't hold me to this unless I'm right).
Lets say all goes well with the surgery and recovery. Bledsoe takes a few weeks to heal and a few weeks to get back in basketball shape, only missing 6 weeks of the season (Feb 22 return for math reasons). This will mean that he misses 20 games. If the sample size of 10 games without Bledsoe stays constant, the Suns will be a .500 team (10 games without Bledsoe, 5 -5 record). At that point the Suns will have a record of 31 - 23. Thats still a pretty solid record. Playoff solid?
The Suns would now have Bledsoe for the remaining 28 games of the season. Lets say they go 16 - 12 in their 28 games left (a little below par with the Suns when Bledsoe has played this season) that would give the Suns a final record of 47 - 35. WIll that be enough to make it into the playoffs? Probably as a 6 - 8 seed (last years Warriors were the 6th seed with the same record).
Thats the best case scenario in my opinion. The worst case scenarios I will leave to everyone else to discuss below. I prefer realistic optimism myself.