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In Street Clothes

Covering sports injuries from the perspective of a certified athletic trainer and backed by analytics.

Quarterly Injury Report for the First Quarter of the NBA Season

The first quarter of the NBA season is over and, as of December 10, the league has already amassed over 1,000 games lost to injury. The number will continue to increase with several players, including Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Memphis’ Quincy Pondexter, expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 11.27.09 AMThe team-by-team results are interesting. Five of the top 10 teams for fewest games missed to injury would not qualify for the playoffs as of December 12. Sacramento, Toronto, Memphis, New York, and Cleveland have all remained relatively healthy but it hasn’t resulted in wins. For the Knicks and Grizzlies it hasn’t been about the number of games lost but whom those missed games came from, as the impact of Tyson Chandler’s fractured fibula and Marc Gasol’s sprained MCL have left both teams with glaring holes in the middle.

Oklahoma City sits atop the list for fewest games missed with just five games lost to injury. Russell Westbrook’s quick return helped minimize this number and allowed the team to remain a powerhouse in the West. San Antonio is keeping pace with just eight games missed. Two of the top three teams in East sit in the top 10 for fewest games missed and only Greg Oden’s still recovering knee is keeping Miami from joining Indiana and Atlanta in the top 10.

At the bottom sits Philadelphia and Milwaukee with 91 and 80 games missed respectively. Utah (66), Golden State (65), and Washington (61) round out the bottom five. Only the Warriors and Wizards would be playoff bound with the Jazz and Bucks fighting for the league’s worst record.

The Lakers may have Kobe Bryant back but his recovery from Achilles surgery was financially costly. His 19 games missed cost Los Angeles over $7 million and the team as a whole lost a league-worst $8.8 million to injury. Brooklyn’s bloated payroll and recent run of injuries comes in just behind LA. Injuries to Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and several other Nets players have resulted in a loss of $6.1 million.

Toronto lost the least amount of money to injury as their 11 missed games cost them roughly $381,000. Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Portland are the only other teams to have lost less than $1 million to injury.

Cost may serve a better indicator of team success as seven of the top 10 teams in lowest cost of injury are currently playoff eligible with Sacramento, Cleveland, and Toronto as the outliers. Chicago’s financial burden will continue to escalate due to the Rose injury though the team is counting on insurance stepping in and offsetting some of the cost.

 Other random and interesting notes:

*Philadelphia and Dallas are the only teams to have multiple players miss the entire first quarter of the season recovering from injury. Devin Harris (toe) and Brandan Wright (shoulder) did not appear in Dallas’ first 22 games while Jason Richardson (knee), Nerlens Noel (knee), and Arnett Moultrie (ankle) have yet to play in Philadelphia’s 22 outings.

*Five of the top 10 qualified PER leaders have missed time with injury, including Brook Lopez (7 games), Stephen Curry (3), Anthony Davis (3), Chris Paul (1), and DeMarcus Cousins (1).

*As of December 10, 1180 games have been lost to injury. 290 (25 percent) were due to ligament injuries, 270 (23 percent) to bone fractures, 178 (15 percent) to muscular injuries, and 64 (5 percent) to meniscus issues.