When NBA injuries occur, they can have a huge impact on the sport and the betting odds. This page will help you keep up with current basketball player injuries, learn more about what NBA injuries occur most often, and read more about the impact injuries have on basketball betting.
One of the great wild cards for the teams looking to win the NBA Championship outright is the occurrence of injuries. With the size of the National Basketball Association’s roster of active players, the length of the regular seasons and the density of games, the risk of injury is high.
An injury could cost a player the entire season, like Zion Williamson and Kawhi Leonard in 2021-22. It could cause a few missed games or a multi-week absence, or a nagging injury could just have an impact on the performance of a player trying to keep going until he heals. Basketball injury prevention is a key part of player training but sports injuries do still occur sometimes.
We’ll take a look at the type of injuries that can affect a team and how long it can take National Basketball Association players to heal so you can estimate the timetable for return on certain basketball injuries.
Basketball players may dribble and shoot with their hands, but the vast majority of the game comes down to running and jumping. So it’s no surprise that lower-body injuries—to the legs and feet—are among the most common problems reported in the NBA.
Knee injuries can range from mildly nagging to season-ending and career-threatening, but they affect every player in the league to some degree. According to a longtime team orthopedist for the Miami Heat, every player in the NBA gets some type of attention for their knees on a daily basis, ranging from ice, wraps and special stretching up to cutting-edge technology.
Despite all of the efforts that seek to mitigate the development of injury, half of the players in the league need some type of medical treatment on their knees during a season.
Knee soreness and swelling from wear and tear on the joint are responsible for more NBA games missed due to injury than any other single injury. Knee inflammation is responsible for 11.9 percent of all injuries and has a huge impact on player participation. This type of acute injury is responsible for 17.5 percent of all games missed.
Often called patellar tendonitis or jumper’s knee, it is normally cured with rest, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. It can result in a game or two missed or a stay on the injured list. Most players easily get back to their preinjury performance after a period of time.
Moving up the ladder of severity, a knee sprain can keep a player out for multiple weeks, with his exact return depending on the severity. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Khris Middleton have all suffered sprains in the last year.
Knee sprains are responsible for 7.4 percent of all NBA games missed. A torn meniscus refers to damage to the cartilage that cushions the joint. There are one-to-two tears for every 10,000 NBA practices or games.
Most require knee surgery with an average recovery time of six weeks. Joel Embiid and James Wiseman are among the players who have suffered this injury.
A knee fracture can keep a player out for several months and could be season-ending. Kobe Bryant suffered a season-ending fracture in Dec. 2013. Blake Griffin, John Wall and Kyrie Irving have all missed large chunks of seasons with the injury.
Torn ACLs and other knee ligaments are more common in other sports, but the injury still strikes a handful of players each season, with an average recovery time of nine to 10 months Kawhi Leonard and Derrick Rose have both suffered ACL injuries.
Landing after jumping to shoot or rebound can cause ankle injuries, which are among the most commonly occurring problems in the NBA, with sprained ankles responsible for 13.2 percent of all injuries and 8.8 percent of time missed.
With the amount of time spent jumping and running, wear and tear on a player’s feet can also lead to foot injury.
Ankle sprains can run a wide gamut of time missed, depending on the severity. Low-grade sprains can cause a game or two on the bench, while high-ankle sprains with higher-grade ratings can cause a player to miss weeks. Ja Morant was listed as week-to-week as he recovered from his most recent sprain.
Less severe than a diagnosed sprain is the more nebulous “ankle soreness.” Essentially, that means that a player has the symptoms of a sprain, but scans don’t reveal any damage. Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic and Andrew Wiggins have all missed multiple games with ankle soreness, which is almost always listed as a day-to-day problem.
One of the most common, and painful, foot problems for National Basketball Association players is plantar fasciitis. The long, wide ligament running along the bottom of the foot gets damaged with small tears and becomes inflamed. It is brutally painful and can last for an extended time. Joel Embiid, Jusuf Nurkic and Shai Gilgeous Alexander missed “significant time” with this ailment.
Lisfranc fractures aren’t common, but they are serious, ending a season. It refers to displacement or fractures to the bones in the middle of the foot. Chet Holmgren missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc fracture. Udonis Haslem had it cut his season short, and other players have never returned from the injury.
Hands and arms don’t take the same beating as legs in the NBA, but they can still suffer plenty of trauma. Fingers can get dislocated or hyperextended from trying to grab rebounds, and wrists can be sprained bracing from a fall. Finger fractures are the most common injury to the hand in the NBA. Over a five-year period, 71 percent of all hand injuries in the NBA were to the fingers, with fractures responsible for 43 percent of all hand injuries. Fractured fingers have just over a one-month recovery time and can approach two months if surgery is necessary. Gordon Hayward, Zion Williamson (who seems to have suffered just about every possible injury) and Pat Connaughton have all suffered broken fingers.
Less common but more severe is a torn ligament in the thumb or other fingers. The time missed for this injury is usually over two months and almost always requires surgery. Joel Embiid (who has also sampled several of the items on the injury menu) and Zach LaVine have battled this injury.
Wrist fractures are a common injury. They can require surgery or a player, like Jayson Tatum during last season’s playoffs, may try to play through it.
Falls are also a cause for elbow fractures, which is the most common elbow injury in the league, but relatively rare compared to other injuries. Gary Payton II missed a month with a fracture.
There are a number of other types of injuries you may come across while following the National Basketball Association.
Hamstring injuries (referring to the tendons and muscles along the back of the leg) are generally nagging and force a player out for an average of a week and a half. Devin Booker missed three weeks, and a tear can sideline a player for two months.
Hip injuries can range from a contusion due to a fall (yes, Zion Williamson had one of these) to a torn hip labrum, which can be season-ending and career-altering. Isaiah Thomas went from an All-Star to struggling to reach that level again after returning from a labrum injury. Groin or adductor injuries can keep a player out an average of 18 days. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both battled groin problems.
Stress fractures refer to breaks in bones that come from wear and tear gradually, over time, rather than in a single incident. There are about four a year in the NBA, usually to the feet or legs, and almost half require surgery. The average time missed is about half a season. Mo Bamba, Jrue Holiday and, yes, Zion Williamson, have all been victims of stress reactions or stress fractures.
The biggest and smallest players in the league are most likely to suffer injuries. Point guards, who are much smaller than the giants they go up against, are most likely to be knocked to the ground on drives to the basket and can suffer injuries related to contact and collision.
Big men are carrying the most weight and also spend most of their time near the basket, where collisions are commonplace and they need to jump and land on every rebounding attempt, also putting their hands and fingers at risk. There’s a reason Zion Williamson and Joel Embiid keep popping up in our injury lists—because they’re big men, who are at the highest risk of injury.
Obviously, a key player can’t help a team if he’s on the bench. And, in the National Basketball Association, injuries can sometimes fall into a grey area. There’s an official injury report listing what’s wrong with players who might miss extended time, but, as we said, virtually every player has sore knees, so not every problem shows up on the report. And some injuries may just require a day off to rest or keep it from getting worse.
If you’re betting on the NBA, you’ll want to keep up with the latest injury news by following beat writers for individual teams on social media to see who is dressing for practice and shoot-around and who is getting load management and may miss a game.
This is the type of information that even computer-generated NBA picks can’t take into account and it’s something that has an impact on the odds and the results, hence the ATS record can also be affected.
NBA teams must report information concerning player injuries, illnesses and rest for all games.
The report must be published the day before a game (other than the second day of a back-to-back) and include a participation status and identify a specific injury, illness or potential instance of a healthy player resting for any player whose participation in the game may be affected by such injury, illness or rest.
For the second game of a back-to-back, the report must be published by 1:00 PM on the official game day.
Bettors looking to simplify this process can head to OddsTrader to check out the latest injuries report for every NBA game.
Big men take the most beating during NBA games and suffer the most wear and tear on their bodies. But every player in the National Basketball Association battles injury at some point during the season to various degrees. One of the most frequently injured players is Anthony Davis.
Another frequently injured player is Victor Oladipo, who has never played more than a 20-game stretch in any of the regular seasons he’s played. He tends to receive more long-term injuries that take him out for large stretches at a time.
The season is long, ranging from October to late June, and players run, jump and bang against each other, all of which increases the risk factor for injury. To help deal with the problem and promote sports health across the league, all teams have their own medical staff, go through regular safety reviews, and consistently work to reduce the risk of severe injuries.
Leg injuries are the most common problem in the NBA, with knee inflammation or “jumper’s knee” responsible for the most missed time. Ankle sprains are the most commonly occurring injury, although the time missed isn’t as high as with knee inflammation.
Each team must publish a list of not just inactive players but players who might be affected by injury for every game by 5:00 PM the night before, or, if teams are playing on back-to-back days, by 1:00 PM on the day of the second game. You’ll find this list at OddsTrader.
Like people in all walks of life, NBA players have to contend with problems and issues in their personal lives. It could range from a spouse or girlfriend giving birth to a death in the family to legal trouble or other issues.
Some players need time off to deal with mental health issues which aren’t always revealed to the public or reported accurately. It’s not as common as missing time due to injury, but it can come up, and some players have to miss more time for personal reasons than others.