For years the Portland TrailBlazers were a group of walking wounded as talented players like Greg Oden and Brandon Roy spent more time in the training room than on the court. However over the past five seasons the Portland medical team has been a model of consistency, ranking third overall during that stretch. This impressive run included last year’s performance when they lost just 65 total games to injury or illness. Al-Farouq Aminu’s 13 games missed to a sprained ankle was the only time all season where an injured player missed more than 10 games consecutively to injury or illness.
Despite the success, a new face will be leading the medical team. Jesse Elis was named the Director of Player Health and Performance in the offseason, replacing Chris Stackpole. Stackpole’s hiring was seen as innovative at the time and was cited as a primary reason for Portland’s turnaround. However, Elis carries an equally impressive resume having previously spent time as the Director of Physical Therapy at EXOS in Phoenix, Arizona.
Geoff Clark remains as the head athletic trainer and will continue to work with the players on a day-to-day basis. Clark has guided the team through a relatively quiet offseason though lingering soreness in Mo Harkless’ knee has been an issue in the preseason. The Blazers will need to continue their run of good health to remain relevant in the West but Clark and company seem prepared for the challenge ahead.