The Spurs medical staff has been the most successful group in the NBA since the 2005-06 season. Last year was more of the same as head athletic trainer Will Sevening and company helped the Spurs miss fewer than 100 games to injury for the eighth time over the past 12 seasons.
Unfortunately the prolonged success will be overshadowed by untimely injuries in the postseason. It started in the Western Conference Semi-Finals when Tony Parker ruptured his left quadriceps tendon. All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard sprained his ankle three games later and aggravated the injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals after he landed on the foot of Warriors center Zaza Pachulia. The play in which Leonard was injured has since resulted in a rule change that will allow referees to assess flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who position their foot under their opponent in an unnatural way.
Both Leonard and Parker enter the new season still recuperating. Leonard’s ankle has healed but he missed the entire preseason managing a lingering quadriceps tendinopathy. Parker is expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season recovering from his surgery. Leonard’s injury is the more pressing concern as he has missed over 20 games throughout his career with quad-related issues. However, the front office’s faith in their medical team appears unshaken as they opted to invest in swingman Rudy Gay, despite last year’s Achilles rupture.
While it appears as the team will start the year at less than full strength, look for the Spurs to find a way to stay relevant while conservatively handling the recoveries of their stars.