This week we once again welcome Stephania Bell into the Hoops Lab. She does outstanding work helping us to understand and better estimate injury absences and return prognostications. Together, we'll look at some of the major injuries in the NBA right now, give some added context about the recovery process, and estimate what this might mean for the player's potential availability this season. Today, we'll start with the large number of impact players returning from ACL injuries before branching out from there.
There was a time when a torn Achilles tendon or a torn ACL meant the end of an NBA playing career. Medicine has advanced through the decades to the point that this is typically not the case anymore, and players are able to recover enough to resume their careers in most circumstances. Return to play following ACL reconstruction averages 10-12 months.
ACL tears are generally more prevalent in the NFL than the NBA, but this season there are an unusually high number of NBA impact players recovering from ACL injuries. Every situation is unique and recovery time can be affected by a number of variables. For instance, was it an isolated ACL tear or were other structures involved? What is the patient's individual rate of healing? And there are also other, non-physiological considerations, such as the seasonal calendar, and whether it makes sense to push to return versus taking more time to recover.
Let's go through some of the more prominent cases.