Health was numerously cited as a primary reason for Golden State’s 2015 title run. Cleveland forward LeBron James went as far as to say the Warriors were the “most healthy team I’ve ever seen in NBA history.” Still the front office continued their progressive approach and reshaped their medical staff naming Lachland Penfold as head of physical performance and sports medicine and promoting Drew Yoder to head athletic trainer.
The move worked as the Warriors record breaking regular season was fueled by sustained health by their top talent. All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green missed a combined five games to injuries in route to 73 wins. Unfortunately things changed in the postseason as Curry alone surpassed that total missing six playoff games with an ankle sprain and a low-grade MCL sprain. A bone contusion on Andrew Bogut’s distal femur and proximal tibia added to the team’s injury woes in the Final and left Golden State just short of back-to-back titles.
The team’s total number of games lost to injury did increase, largely to the problematic knee of Festus Ezeli and a congenital hip condition of rookie Kevon Looney. Ezeli missed 31 games following an in-season knee debridement and Looney missed over half the season after undergoing surgery on both hips. However the medical team anticipated Looney’s lost time as it was a major reason why he fell to Golden State in the draft in the first place.
Now the Warriors will look to take back the Larry O’Brien Trophy with former MVP Kevin Durant on board. Durant’s acquisition did cost the team depth, making the job of Penfold and company even more important to long-tern success. It will start with appropriately managing the minutes of Durant and Curry, two players with a history of foot and ankle problems. Maintaining the health of bench players like David West, Anderson Varejao, and Shaun Livingston will also be key in ensuring Golden State enters the postseason at full strength.