Earlier Start to NBA Season the Reason for High Injury Rate?

By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)

The Memphis Grizzlies are one of many teams who have suffered the loss of a starter in the early portion of the regular season. Is the mid-October start the top reason for these major injuries?


Though the Memphis Grizzlies were prepared to begin their 2017-18 regular season with a few minor injuries, their starters were guaranteed. That is, in fact, if you count Grizz newcomer Ben McLemore (foot injury) as a reserve in their crowded backcourt.

It took just four minutes into Memphis' home-opener versus the New Orleans Pelicans for the Grizzlies to suffer a big blow to their rotation. Their starting power forward, JaMychal Green, went down with a gnarly ankle sprain.

In the same game, the Pelicans' Anthony Davis took multiple nasty spills. He has been prone to injury throughout his NBA career, but the first game of New Orleans' regular season is still too early for "The Brow" to become damaged.

The night before the Pelicans-Grizzlies showdown, the NBA world underwent a sickening shock. The Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward -- in his first game donning the white and green -- tragically broke his ankle on a drive to the basket through two defenders. The expectation is for Hayward to miss the remainder of the regular season. He played just five minutes in the first game of 82 on the Celtics' calendar.

There have been numerous other significant injuries around the league since the tip of the regular season.

Within the first week of the new schedule, the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green sustained a sprained knee and was listed as being day-to-day.

In the Brooklyn Nets' season-opener against the Indiana Pacers, Jeremy Lin took a hard spill late in the game. He immediately yelled "I'm done!" Lin reached for his knee and called for help from the training staff. The Nets' point guard is now out for the season after suffering a ruptured patella tendon.

Perhaps the large number of injuries is more noticeable than previous years because these are starters, stars, and All-Stars. Big names or not, there is one key factor that may very well be the root cause of these significant injuries.

The NBA offseason has always come to a close by the end of September. This begins training camp, which normally transitions into preseason game play after approximately one week. NBA Media Day falls between training camp and preseason. Prior to 2017-18, preseason games would be sprinkled throughout the month of October. The regular season would not tip off until the final few days of October.

This year, the NBA did what was assumed to be an excellent change. Each NBA franchise was scheduled five or less preseason games. The amount of training camp days were shortened, too. This was in an effort to begin the regular season by just under two weeks earlier than normal.

Lost in transition was the conditioning. The extra preparatory repetitions. Though preseason matchups may not count as a mark in the win or loss columns, they are invaluable to the players themselves. With less time to get their bodies in full-speed game shape, it is easy to see why a spike in injuries has happened.

This agenda adjustment may be something to consider revisiting if you are Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner. Along with the new two-way G-League contracts, there may be a few items worth revisiting next offseason.

Overall, the NBA is bigger and better than ever, but there are a few bumps in the road that need to be smoothed over. After all, nobody wants to see NBA players sitting on the sideline with injuries -- especially when it's the stars.

Go Grizz!

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