The 2013-14 season is finally here and there will be one noticeable absence. Kobe Bryant will miss the Lakers season opener against the in-house rival Clippers as he continues to recover from his torn Achilles. He recently cutback his workload though the team wouldn’t call the decision a setback. Reports indicate he has been cleared to run, though his latest workout occurred on an altered-gravity treadmill designed to limit the amount of weight placed on and through his lower extremities.
Despite his absence, Kobe’s progress to this point is remarkable. A quick look at the numbers from eight recent cases of NBA players managing ruptured Achilles supports this stance. These eight players missed an average of 70 games, including regular and postseason outings. Each of these injuries occurred at various points of the season making a true comparison a tad difficult though former Utah center Mehmet Okur may be the safest comparison as he also tore his Achilles in mid-April. Okur would miss nine playoff games during the 2010 postseason and the first 26 games of the following season. He would struggle when active and ultimately see his season end prematurely due to back pain and lingering soreness in the Achilles.
It doesn’t sound like Bryant will miss 26 games and the Lakers continue to insist he will return when he’s ready. Bryant has previously mentioned a desire to complete a three-week conditioning program prior to rejoining the team but there’s been no indication if he’s already completed any of this plan. Still the former MVP continues to progress and remains in line to return sooner than any other player in recent memory.