NBA injuries

Curry injured AP

It may seem like it, but lockout does not equal more injuries

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You knew this would come — the talk around the league that the lockout and shortened training camps had led to more injuries, more sprained ankles and more traumatic injuries. anecdotal evidence seems to back that up. Al Horford is down for the season after surgery to repair his pectoral muscle Tuesday, a similar injury to what Kwame Brown suffered. Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and others are out, and Kobe Bryant should be but is too stubborn.

Here is what Rick Adelman told NBA.com.

“I just find it unusual that you see so many,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “Maybe because the season is so compressed that you dwell on it quicker and more often, since you don’t have time to rest. But it just seems rash. Someone told me that between now and February (the Wolves) have two days off. That’s not a lot of time to rest or get healthy.”

Adelman is on to something — it’s not the lockout, but the compressed schedule makes it look worse than it is. More games in a tighter space makes the normal number of injuries per game appear increased, and when players do get hurt they miss more games while recovering than in the past.

Sports injury blogger and guru Will Carroll did a study on this for a team and wrote for Sports Illustrated about it before the season.

Traumatic injuries are random in when they occur, but predictable in how often they occur, according to a proprietary study I did for an NBA team two years ago… The gist of the study is that certain events make a player more likely to be injured traumatically and that traumatic injuries predict chronic ones. Players have a greater chance of suffering a traumatic injury if they persist in doing certain athletic activities over a long period….

Which brings us back to the lockout and injuries. There’s simply no evidence that the lockout or even just a time away from the paternalistic embrace of a team increases the risk of injury.

Wade is out — this is a guy who attacks the rim aggressively and is reckless with his body in the process. It is part of what makes him great, but it does lead to injuries and we have seen that in his past. He rolled his ankle — that’s a common, every season occurences with players. Rose also attacks aggressively and puts his body at risk (although he draws less contact than Wade). Did you really think Rose was never going to suffer some injuries?

Big men having random injuries that cost them the season, we see that every year, too.

The difference this year is that because of the compressed schedule the injuries appear to happen more often. A player tweaks his ankle and might normally have a day or two off to rest it before he plays again, but now he tries to play through it during four games in six nights and the result is it gets worse. That’s not the fault of the lockout — that’s the fault of the NBA owners and players union trying to make as much money back this season as they could by compressing the schedule.

Don’t go blaming the lockout when injuries pile up

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks
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Starting Dec. 9 when training camps open, guys are going to get injured. And when it happens you are going to inevitably hear an announcer or that fool down bar from you drinking Bud Light say, “That’s because of the lockout.”

No, it’s not.

While it seems intuitive, it just doesn’t work that way. A guy spraining his ankle or injuring his knee could have happened at any point — whether it was working out or playing in the Chinese Basketball Association — because those things just happen. It wasn’t the lockout, it was bad luck. If anything, players may have saved wear-and-tear on chronic injuries, those could be less of an issue (although the condensed schedule will not help).

Don’t take my word for it. Will Carroll — the injury expert at Sports Illustrated — has studied NBA injuries in depth and in a post at The Point Forward he blows up the lockout-induced injury.

Traumatic injuries are random in when they occur, but predictable in how often they occur, according to a proprietary study I did for an NBA team two years ago… The gist of the study is that certain events make a player more likely to be injured traumatically and that traumatic injuries predict chronic ones. Players have a greater chance of suffering a traumatic injury if they persist in doing certain athletic activities over a long period.

While I can’t give you the details on the study, one such activity is jumping. Yes, jumping. It puts a strain on a player’s knees, ankles, hips and back. Players land wrong or land on someone else’s foot. It turns out the traumatic injuries are just the inevitable buildup of odds rather than a purely random occurrence. It’s Russian Roulette with a really big cylinder.

Which brings us back to the lockout and injuries. There’s simply no evidence that the lockout or even just a time away from the paternalistic embrace of a team increases the risk of injury. In the NFL, the lockout was widely believed to be problematic…. The general injury numbers have continued to stay in the normal range all season long.

But what about those nine guys in the NFL who injured their Achilles in the first weeks of the NFL season? Last season with full camps there were eight of those in the same time frame. Basically the same number.

So when your favorite player goes down, go ahead and curse the basketball gods. Just don’t blame the lockout.

Bucks claim “honors” as NBA’s most injured team. Congratulations!

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
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Yes, we know. Your team would have done so much better if it weren’t for the injuries.

Just know that there is always some team that had it worse.

Unless you’re a Milwaukee Bucks fan.

Over at Basketball Prospectus, friend-of-the-site Kevin Pelton did the heavy lifting and compiled the lists of man games lost to injury this season. The Bucks were your “winners” with 15 players having missed time, totaling 267 games. The Bucks also won when Peloton figured out the regular rotation minutes lost due to injury. Portland was second in games lost and sixth in minutes.

Nobody has had it worse in terms of the sheer number of injuries than the Milwaukee Bucks. Basically, every player on the Milwaukee roster has missed time, including extended absences for Carlos Delfino, Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon. The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t been beset by injuries quite as badly as they were a year ago, but a pair of Portland players (Greg Oden and rookie Elliot Williams) have missed the entire season due to knee surgery. So has Jeff Pendergraph, who doesn’t count here because he was waived after tearing his ACL. Having centers Oden, Pendergraph and Joel Przybilla all sidelined at the start of the year forced Nate McMillan to rely on Sean Marks and Fabricio Oberto for rotation minutes.

Boston has also suffered a lot of missed time to injuries — the Celtics were third in games lost (233) and second in rotation minutes lost. That speaks a lot to some of their recent struggles, and to how well they overcame them, but it was also the risk they took on assembling a veteran team with some injury prone guys (Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal). They got through the season near the top of the east but how those injuries bleed over into the playoffs will determine how this season is remembered in Boston.

On the other end of the spectrum — Doug Collins caught some breaks (or more accurately didn’t catch many breaks) with Philadelphia. No matter how you want to define the numbers, Philly was the healthiest team in the NBA. Although that seems to be catching up with them.

Noah sidelined again with plantar fasciitis

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Joakim Noah keeps trying to overcome his plantar fasciitis, one of the most painful, debilitating injuries in the NBA, and the injury keeps winning.

Noah played 27 minutes in the Bulls’ overtime win over the Blazers, but came down and hurt his foot again drawing a foul in the extra session. Post-game, the Bulls announced Noah would not be traveling with the team to Indiana.

Plantar fasciitis is painful, but not restricting. As in, you can play through it, it just hurts like hell. And it only gets better with long-term rest. Which is kind of difficult in March when you’re jockeying for playoff position in the midst of an 82 game season before a long playoff march. It’s such a shame because Noah was playing so well before the condition developed.

Noah was limited even before he came down on it wrong. He was completely dominated on a putback by Lamarcus Aldridge after a Brandon Roy missed free throw, which helped lead to the Blazers forcing overtime. It’s a difficult injury to play with, to live with, and for coaches to manage. The Bulls will have to find a way, though, with as much as they need Noah.

BREAKING: Josh Howard out for the season with torn ACL

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JHoward_injured.jpgUPDATE 2:58PM: D-League blog Ridiculous Upside is reporting that Mike Harris of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League will be called up to take Howard’s place. Harris just got back from a stint with RGV’s affiliate the Houston Rockets and is widely considered the top call-up prospect in the D-League.

12:45 am: Mike Jones (formerly of the Washington Times Sports) is reporting via Twitter that Flip Saunders has informed him Josh Howard is done for the season after tearing his ACL.

It’s a crushing blow for Howard, who recently said he wanted to try and push for the playoffs with a Wizards team that has won two out of three since the massive trades to detonate their core two weeks ago.

Howard was looking forward to a rebirth in Washington, and was playing like a leader, hitting big shots and playing to the potential the Mavericks thought had passed.

Whatever the Wizards have done to offend the Basketball Gods, they are sorry. We’re all sorry.

Well, it could be worse, they could…

Yeah, I got nothing.