Just 18 minutes into his first NBA game, Julius Randle fractured his tibia on what was an innocent play.
Longtime Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti — entering his final season — has blamed himself for that. He shouldn’t, every other medical person consulted on this said there was no way to see it coming, but that’s Vitti. Randle had surgery that put a rod and screws in his tibia, and he spent a year in recovery. (While out, Randle also had foot surgery.) He was healthy enough to play in Summer League in Las Vegas.
But heading into the season, Vitti is still leaning toward caution and thinking long-term, as he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
“The plan is we get to the first day of training camp, we talk to our doctors and hopefully he will be able to participate in everything. But men plan and God laughs. So that’s the plan. That’s the mid-range plan. I said there were three goals. First is to get him to play in summer league. Second goal was to get him at first day of training camp and get him to do everything. Third goal is to get him to play in the first regular season game without restrictions.”
So what are he and the doctors watching? That answer provides a brilliant look into the advanced analytics available in the NBA that are becoming the trend for monitoring player health.
“Number one is pain. The things that we look at are pain, inflammation and swelling as well as talking to him on how he feels. It’s also his performance on the court and his recovery on the court. We look at things like load and intensity. So when we’re in a game at an NBA arena, we have an eye in the sky. The eye in the sky tells us how many accelerations there are to the left and how many accelerations there are to the right as well as how many decelerations. We can tell how many accelerations and decelerations there are and the trajectory of them. That information goes in an algorithm that tells us the average speed that the player played at. We multiply that by the distance that he ran in a game. We multiply that by his body weight. That gives us a number that we call load. We look at that number. But then we also take that number and divide it by time, which is minutes played, and that gives us intensity. So what we want to see as his load goes up, does his intensity go up with it. If it does, then we’re okay.”
If not, there are changes. It’s that simple. And if/when players start wearing body monitoring devices, that will add another level to the discussion.
Hopefully for the Lakers there are no restrictions on Randle, who needs to diversify his offensive moves as he adapts to the next level of defense he will face.
Dwyane Wade has missed 48 games in the past two seasons, mostly all because of a preventative maintenance program for his weary knees. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has prioritized a relatively healthy Wade for the playoffs over regular season wins — which was the smart thing to do. And still is the smart thing to do.
But at his press conference Wednesday heading into this new season, Spoelstra said he is not playing Wade with any restrictions, via Jason Lieser of the The Palm Beach Post.
Spoelstra is going to treat this season like he did the last couple — he’s not going to have a hard-and-fast minutes limit (as Byron Scott has talked about with Kobe Bryant), and he’s not going to give a game limit, but don’t confuse that with him being willing to pull or rest Wade if he looks at all a little sore or fatigued.
How comfortable Spoelstra is with resting Wade will be tied to how well Gerald Green plays as his backup, and maybe Josh Richardson behind him. This is a deeper Heat team if Josh McRoberts can stay healthy and Justise Winslow is as good as they hope, they can afford to rest Wade some and get wins in Goran Dragic and Chris Bosh are right.
It’s why Miami may be the second best team in the East. Maybe.
That is damn funny. Not quite Kevin Barnett funny, but funny.
Charlotte’s Jeremy Lin has done funny videos before, he’s got a future as a YouTube star if this NBA thing doesn’t pan out. Coming undrafted out of Harvard, he’s the perfect fit to talk about an outsider trying to fit in the NBA culture. This video is loaded with NBA stars — Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Jamal Crawford — and is well put together.
But stick around at the end to watch Riley Curry do the Nae Nae. That may be the best part.
(Hat tip NBA reddit)
It’s just one, imperfect measure, but it gives you a good snapshot of where Anthony Davis is in his development:
Last season Davis had a PER of 30.8, not just the best in the NBA for the season but the 11th best all-time for a season. The only three players to record higher PERs for a season are Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain. And Davis is just 22 and still improving by leaps and bounds.
But if you ask Davis — as Justin Termine of SiriusXM NBA Radio did at the NBA 2K16 release party Tuesday night — he says he hasn’t won enough to get there.
“I still have a lot of work to do. I haven’t even got out of the first round yet, haven’t won a game in the playoffs yet. So there are a lot of steps for me. Them two guys are definitely unbelievable players but I know one day I’m going to be there, I’m going to be the best player in the league if I continue to work hard and keep grinding, keep being dedicated, keep being motivated.”
Davis is saying the right things, and he understands his ultimate legacy will have to include playoff wins and rings (not to mention MVPs) if he wants to be mentioned with the all-time greats. But we’re a long way from there — and it’s fair to ask how this Pelicans roster, which is not that young, is poised to get him there over the next five-plus years.
For now, it’s just about taking the next step in his development — he’s going to broaden his game, be in the MVP conversation this season, and lift the Pelicans farther than that franchise has been in a long time (although how far in a brutal Western Conference is up for debate). It’s going to be fun to watch.
Kevin Durant is ready to go.
Actually, he is already going. The former MVP is coming off multiple surgeries to repair a Jones fracture to his right foot, but he has been playing 5-on-5 at the Thunder practice facility and is fully cleared for practice, Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti said at a news conference Wednesday. Royce Young of ESPN was on hand.
After the health concerns for Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka in recent years, new coach Bill Donovan should find a way to limit their minutes when he can. It’s a marathon, one where the Thunder need to be fresh for the sprint the final miles (the playoffs).
It’s simple: If Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka are near healthy the Thunder are legitimate title contenders. With the margins between the top teams in the West being so tight, that’s where questions such as, “is Donovan ready?” or “will Enes Kanter‘s defense be too big a liability?” come into play.
But the Thunder need to answer the big health questions first, and at least they are starting on the right foot (so to speak).