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Chet Holmgren can look to other top NBA draft picks who had season-ending injuries


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While defending LeBron James on the fast break during a pro-am game last Saturday, Chet Holmgren jumped to contest a layup and landed awkwardly, injuring his right foot and becoming the newest lottery pick whose debut season ended before it officially began.

Holmgren, the No. 2 selection by the Oklahoma City Thunder on this 12 months’s NBA draft, will miss the upcoming season with a Lisfranc injury, which ends from damage to the bones or ligaments that stabilize and support the arch of the foot.

A Lisfranc injury ended Udonis Haslem’s 2010-11 regular season with the Miami Heat, though he returned after six months and played within the postseason. While recovery time from the injury varies from individual to individual, full recovery for elite athletes typically lasts seven to 11 months, in line with Amiethab A. Aiyer, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Chet Holmgren, NBA draft’s No. 2 pick, to miss rookie season with injury

Reports on Lisfranc injuries inside the NBA are sparse in comparison with those in touch sports reminiscent of rugby or football, where they’ve been studied more closely, said Aiyer. Inside those two sports, studies show most players return from Lisfranc injuries inside 11 months but experience “some declines in those first couple seasons” back.

“For the opposite sports that the literature is on the market for, including rugby and the NFL, where it occurs far more ceaselessly, there’s a reasonably good probability — near 90 percent or higher — of a return to play inside a 12 months,” Aiyer said. “Some studies show no real difference in pre-injury versus post-injury play, but there’s definitely some evidence of [potential] decline coming back.”

As Holmgren begins his rehabilitation, he can look to other high NBA draft picks who missed their debut seasons to injuries and returned with somewhat mixed results.

Perhaps essentially the most distinguished example of recent star potential spoiled by injuries, Oden was chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers with the highest pick within the 2007 draft despite questions on his durability. That summer, the previous all-American at Ohio State had an exploratory procedure after experiencing swelling in his right knee and wound up requiring microfracture surgery which forced him to miss all the 2007-08 season.

From 2014: Miami Heat’s Greg Oden makes long-awaited return to NBA

A series of knee injuries consistently sidelined the 7-footer, who later suffered season-ending injuries through the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns. Oden played three seasons for the Trail Blazers and the Miami Heat, appearing in 105 games and averaging 8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest. He’s currently the director of basketball operations at Butler under former Buckeyes coach Thad Matta.

Like Oden, injury concerns followed Griffin from college to the professionals, where he was the No. 1 pick by the Los Angeles Clippers within the 2009 draft. Months later, through the Clippers’ final preseason game, Griffin winced as he returned to the ground after a dunk. It was later revealed that Griffin suffered a broken left kneecap, delaying his rookie debut for what was regarded as only several weeks. As a substitute, the previous Oklahoma star missed all the season after tests showed his knee was not recovering properly.

Despite the setback, Griffin, who was considered a rookie through the 2010-11 season, was voted to the 2011 All-Star Game and later earned rookie of the 12 months honors. Although injuries have disrupted Griffin’s profession in following years — he missed the rest of the 2019-20 season as a consequence of a nagging left knee injury — he received his sixth All-Star Game selection through the 2018-19 campaign. Griffin, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets, averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season.

Arguably essentially the most dominant NBA star who missed his first season due to injury, Embiid has been top-of-the-line big men within the league since he was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third overall pick within the 2014 draft — despite undergoing surgery on a broken bone in his right foot just six days prior.

The injury forced him to miss the primary two seasons of his profession after an prolonged recovery led to a second round of surgery on his foot, greater than a 12 months after the initial procedure. Embiid finally made his 76ers debut in October 2016, recording 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a loss to the Thunder.

The 7-footer has since grow to be top-of-the-line big men within the league, earning all-star selections each of the previous five seasons. Embiid has been considered one of the NBA’s most formidable defensive players, but he also won the league scoring title last season while averaging 30.6 points per game.

The primary overall pick within the 2016 draft, Simmons missed his first season with the 76ers after he rolled his right ankle through the team’s final training camp scrimmage. Tests revealed that Simmons had fractured a bone in his right foot and he was officially ruled out for the 12 months after further tests showed an incomplete recovery later that season.

When he debuted the next season, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and eight.1 rebounds per game en path to winning NBA rookie of the 12 months. The following season, he earned the primary of three all-star selections.

Simmons has established himself as considered one of the league’s top defensive players, although his offensive shortcomings have increasingly come under scrutiny, and contributed to his move from Philadelphia to Brooklyn in February. Hampered by back issues late last season, Simmons has yet to make his Nets debut.

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