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NBA AM: Injuries Are Unavoidable

Injuries are a part of the game, but did the way Kevin Durant plays contribute to his foot injury?

Steve Kyler



Injuries Happen:  There is really no way to avoid injuries in sports. It’s part of playing the game. You can train, rehab and try to be preventive, but bodies break down. The wear and tear gets everyone eventually.

The fact that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has stayed as healthy as he has given the tremendous amount of minutes he’s played is impressive.

Durant, in his seven NBA seasons, has logged 20,717 regular season minutes and 3,090 playoff minutes for a total of 23,807 minutes. That’s a massive workload, especially for a guy that’s posted 16,960 points in that same span. Said another way, that’s 11,899 shot attempts.

Durant’s closest peer in the minutes played department is Cleveland’s LeBron James, who has logged 33,276 regular season minutes and 6,717 playoff minutes for a total of 39,993 minutes played in 11 seasons. James has put up 23,170 regular season points and 4,419 playoff points for a total of 27,589 points in his career. Said another way, James has put up 19,915 shots.

Divide those out into a per season number and Durant has averaged 3,401 minutes per season, 2,422.8 points (including postseason) and 1,699.8 shots. James’ numbers average out to 2,508 minutes per season, 2,508 points (including postseason) and 1,810.4 shots.

When the news of Durant’s foot injury broke a few skill trainers that work with NBA players in the offseason reached out with some comments that rang true.

The most important thing is that Durant’s injury was likely due to excessive use. Durant has logged a lot of miles and minutes and this very type of injury is something players risk. Durant took a tremendous amount of criticism for leaving Team USA abruptly this summer, but this kind of injury is exactly why players have to weigh how much they can play not only when it comes to internationally, but the amount of exhibition and promotional basketball they do in the offseason.

Durant’s injury was also compounded by the way he plays. As one trainer pointed out, Durant’s game includes the use of hard jabs, violent changes and stop motions. One trainer pointed out that when they instruct players about jabs and jab fakes, they want a violent jab, which you can feel in your foot and your legs.

These violent jabs help sell the fake to the opposition because it needs to look and feel like to you are exploding away.

“With the amount that [Durant] stutter jabs, jabs and steps back along with his go to off dribble moves being freeze violent right left step ins, he will need a significant healing process to get back to his scoring ways without having a heightened chance of re-injury,” said one trainer.

Another trainer cautioned on trying to rush Durant back too quickly, noting that the violent nature of his jab step could cause re-injury, especially given the nature of a Jones fracture, which is a small crack in an area of the foot that does not get a lot of blood flow, which is needed for the healing process.

While neither trainer works with Durant, they both work with a number of high profile NBA players and have helped them return to form from far worse injuries.

Both agreed that Durant should be able to recovery fully based on what they know of the injury, but warn, that coming back without limitations from this kind of injury could take a while given how Durant plays.

Considering Durant really hasn’t missed any significant time in his seven NBA seasons, it’s possible this rest could be good for him considering the miles he’s already logged.

It’s Time To Chat! – Check out the upcoming NBA Chats, and drop in a question for your favorite Basketball Insiders’ writer.

Remember It’s a Business First:  As fans and fanatics of basketball sometimes it’s easy to forget that the game and the competitive part, you know the part you care about, is simply the bait to get your attention and more importantly your money. That’s not to say that owners or more importantly the NBA don’t care about the game, its simply that making the game better is about making the business stronger.

After all it is a business.

For the last two years the NBA and its teams have been flirting with changes to the game jersey, with things like sleeves and new this year: The re-location of logo elements such as the NBA logo mark being moved to the back instead of being on the front right corner.

The concept of ads on NBA jerseys has been floated for a while, and most see sleeves as an easy transition to ads, as the sleeves create more real estate for it.

According to John Ourand and John Lombardo of the Sports Business Daily, not only are ads on jersey coming, it seems the league’s broadcast partners tried to secure the rights to sell the ads on jerseys as part of their new mega-broadcast deal, something the NBA walked away from.

However, according to Sports Business Daily, Turner Broadcasting did get a small concession on this front, and that was the right to sell “on jersey” ads for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game jersey, which will likely be the test case for the process.

The NBA, namely Commissioner Adam Silver, has been asked numerous times about ads on jerseys and while the league isn’t rushing to install ads, there is inevitability to it, simply because of how much money can be generated from it.

Equally, with the broadcast partners pushing for it, there is increased likelihood that inside the span of this new TV deal that ads on jerseys are part of bigger NBA-wide ad buys.

Why would the TV partners want ads on jerseys? Because they can demand huge broadcast ad package guarantees as part of the bigger deal. The structure of a deal like this almost eliminates smaller brands, and what’s more likely is a large mega-brand like Samsung or Coke-Cola win out on something like this. So you won’t see Bob’s Tire Barn on a Laker jersey, but a Samsung logo becomes very realistic.

The NBA’s WNBA has had ads on their jerseys for some time, and it’s likely that on-jersey ads will make their way to the D-League too.

As much as fans seem to hate this idea, “on jersey” ads have been a part of the Soccer world for years, and depending on how it’s done, some of the jerseys become more interesting because of the sponsor.

It’s not happening tomorrow, but it is inevitable that ads on jerseys are coming. The questions are when does it happen, and who ponies up the dollars to win that real estate because it’s not going to come cheap.

Remember, it’s a business first.

More Twitter:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.


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Middleton, Bucks Aiming To ‘Lock In’ As Season Comes To Close

Spencer Davies catches up with Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton in a Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies



Basketball Insiders had the chance to chat with Khris Middleton about the direction of the Milwaukee Bucks as the season comes to a close.

You guys won three out of four before you came into Cleveland. What was working during that stretch?

Just being us. Doing it with our defense, playing fast-paced offense. Just trying to keep teams off the three-point line. We haven’t done that. We didn’t do that [Monday] or two games ago, but it’s something we’ve just gotta get back to.

With the offense—it seems like it’s inconsistent. What do you think that’s got to do with mostly?

Just trying to do it by ourselves sometimes. Standing, keeping the ball on one side of the floor. We’re a better team when we play in a fast pace. And then also in the half court, when we move the ball from side-to-side it just opens the paint for everybody and there’s a lot more space.

For you, on both ends you’ve been ultra-aggressive here in the last couple weeks or so, does that have to do with you feeling better or is it just a mindset?

I’ve been healthy all year. Right now, it’s the end of the season. Gotta make a push. Everybody’s gotta lock in. Have to be confident, have to be aggressive. Have to do my job and that’s to shoot the ball well and to defend.

Have you changed anything with your jumper? Looking at the past couple months back-to-back, your perimeter shooting was below 32 percent. In March it’s above 45 percent.

I feel like I got a lot of great looks earlier this year. They just weren’t falling. Right now, they’re falling for me, so I have the same mindset that I had when I was missing and that’s to keep on shooting. At some point, they’re gonna go down for me.

Is knowing that every game at this point means more an extra motivator for you guys?

Definitely. We’re basically in the playoffs right now. We’re in a playoff series right now where we have to win games, we have to close out games, in order to get the seeding and to stay in the playoffs. Each game and each possession means something to us right now.

Is it disappointing to be in the position the team is in right now, or are you looking at it as, ‘If we get there, we’re going to be alright’?

I mean, we wish we were in a better position. But where we’re at right now, we’re fine with it. We want to make that last push to get higher in the seeding.

Lots of changes have gone on here. Eric Bledsoe came in two weeks into the season. You had the coaching change and lineup changes. Jabari Parker’s been getting situated before the postseason. How difficult does that make it for you guys to build consistency?

Yeah, it was tough at first. But I think early on we had to adjust on the fly. We didn’t have too many practices. There was a stretch where we were able to get in the film room, get on the court, and practice with each other more.

Now it’s just at a point where we’re adding a lot of new guys off the bench where we have to do the same things—learn on the fly, watch film. We’re not on the court as much now, but we just have to do a great job of buying in to our system, try to get to know each other.

Does this team feel like it has unfinished business based on what happened last year?

Definitely. Last year, we felt like we let one go. Toronto’s a great team. They’re having a hell of a season this year, but I feel like we let one go. This year’s a new year—a little add of extra motivation. We’ve been in the playoff position before, so hopefully, we learn from it when we go into it this year.

Would you welcome that rematch?

I mean, we welcome anybody man. We showed that we compete with any team out here. We can’t worry about other teams as much. We just have to be focused on us.

What has to happen for you guys to achieve your full potential?

Lock in. Just play as hard as we can, play unselfish, and do our job out there night-in, night-out.

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NBA Daily: Raptors Look To Fine-Tune The Defense

The Toronto Raptors’ defense had a letdown against the Cavaliers, but has been outstanding overall.

Buddy Grizzard



The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors engaged in an offensive shootout on Wednesday that could be a playoff preview. The Cavs protected home court with a single-possession, 132-129 victory. Afterward, the Raptors spoke about the types of defensive adjustments the team needs to make as the postseason rapidly approaches.

“That’s how a playoff game would be,” said DeMar DeRozan, who missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced overtime. “This is a team we’ve been playing against the last two years in the postseason. Understanding how we can tighten up things defensively, how to make things tougher for them [is key].

“[It’s] little small things that go a long way, and not just with them … with every team.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey concurred with DeRozan that fine-tuning of the defense is needed. He also pointed out that, with young contributors such as center Jakob Poeltl and power forward Pascal Siakam on the roster, defensive experience against the league’s best player, LeBron James, is something they will have to gain on the fly.

“I don’t think Jakob Poeltl played against him that much, and Siakam,” said Casey. “This is their first time seeing it. I thought Jak and Pascal did an excellent job, but there are certain situations where they’ve got to read and understand what the other team is trying to do to them.”

Poeltl was outstanding, leading the bench with 17 points and tying for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Casey praised the diversity of his contributions.

“I thought he did an excellent job of rolling, finishing, finding people,” said Casey. “I thought defensively, he did a good job of protecting the paint, going vertical. So I liked what he was giving us, especially his defense against Kevin Love.”

Basketball Insiders previously noted how the Raptors have performed vastly better as a team this season when starting point guard Kyle Lowry is out of the game. Much of that is due to Fred VanVleet’s emergence as one of the NBA’s best reserve point guards. VanVleet scored 16 points with five assists and no turnovers against Cleveland. It’s also a reflection of how good Toronto’s perimeter defense has been up and down the roster.

According to ESPN’s defensive Real Plus-Minus statistic, three of the NBA’s top 15 defensive point guards play for the Raptors. VanVleet ranks seventh while Lowry is 12th and Delon Wright is 14th. Starting small forward OG Anunoby ranks 16th at his position.

The Raptors also rank in the top five in offensive efficiency (third) and defensive efficiency (fifth). Having established an identity as a defensive team, especially on the perimeter, it’s perhaps understandable that Lowry was the one player in the visiting locker room who took the sub-standard defensive showing personally.

“It was a disgraceful display of defense by us and we’ve got to be better than that,” said Lowry. “We’ve got to be more physical. They picked us apart and made a lot of threes. We’ve got to find a way to be a better defensive team.”

Lowry continued the theme of fine-tuning as the regular season winds down.

“I think we’ve just got to make adjustments on the fly as a team,” said Lowry. “We can score with the best of them, but they outscored us tonight. We got what we wanted offensively. We’re one of the top teams in scoring in the league, but we’re also a good defensive team.”

Lowry was clearly bothered by Toronto’s defensive showing, but Casey downplayed the importance of a single regular-season game.

“We’ve got to take these games and learn from them, and again learn from the situations where we have to be disciplined,” said Casey. “It’s not a huge thing. It’s situations where we are that we’ve got to learn from and be disciplined and not maybe take this step and over-help here. Because a team like that and a passer like James will make you pay.”

While the Raptors continue to gain experience and dial in the fine defensive details, Casey was insistent that his players should not hang their heads over falling short against Cleveland.

“Hopefully our guys understand that we’re right there,” said Casey.

The Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets tonight to open a three-game home stand that includes visits from the Clippers Sunday and the Nuggets Tuesday. After that, Toronto visits the Celtics March 31 followed by a return to Cleveland April 3 and a home game against Boston the next night. With three games in a row against the other two top-three teams in the East, the schedule presents plenty of opportunities for the Raptors to add defensive polish before the playoffs begin.

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NBA Daily: Jaylen Brown Set To Return For Celtics

The Celtics finally got some good news on Thursday. Jaylen Brown’s return is imminent.

Moke Hamilton



Finally, some good news for the Boston Celtics.

Jaylen Brown is set to return to action.

Brown has been M.I.A. since sustaining a concussion during the team’s 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves back on March 8, but has traveled with the team to Portland and is expecting to return to the lineup on Sunday when the Celtics do battle with the Sacramento Kings.

As the Celts gear up for a playoff run, which they hope will result in them ending LeBron James’ reign atop the Eastern Conference, they’ve picked the wrong time to run into injury issues. Along with Brown, both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart have each been conspicuous by their absences, and the team could certainly use all of their pieces as they attempt to enter the postseason on a high note.

Fortunately for Boston, with the Toronto Raptors leading them by 4.5 games in the standings and the Celts ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a comfortable six games, Brad Stevens’ team is enjoying the rare situation of having a playoff seed that appears to be somewhat locked in.

Still, with the team only able to go as far as its young rotation will carry it, Brown addressed the media on Thursday.

“I’m feeling a lot better. I’m just trying to hurry up and get back,” Brown said, as quoted by

“I’m tired of not playing.”

Stevens is probably tired of him not playing, too.

As we head into the month of April, playoff-bound teams and conference contenders begin to think about playing into June, while the cellar-dwellers and pretenders begin to look toward the draft lottery and free agency.

What’s funny is that in the midst of the Raptors and their rise out East, the Celtics and their dominance has become a bit of a forgotten storyline. When Gordon Hayward went down on opening night, the neophytes from the Northeast were thought to be a decent team in the making whose ceiling probably wasn’t anywhere near that of the Cavs, the Raptors and perhaps even the Washington Wizards.

Yet through it all, with the impressive growth of Jaylen Brown, impressive rookie Jayson Tatum and the rise of Irving as a franchise’s lynchpin, the Celtics stormed out the games to the tune of a a 17-3 record. What made the strong start even more impressive was the fact that the team won 16 straight games after beginning the season 0-2.

Although they weren’t able to keep up that pace, they began the month of February having gone 37-15 and turned a great many into believers. With their spry legs, team-first playing style and capable leader in Irving, the Celtics, it was thought, were a true contender in the Eastern Conference — if not the favorite.

Since then, and after experiencing injuries to some of its key cogs, the team has gone just 11-8.

In the interim, it seems that many have forgotten about the team that tantalized the Eastern Conference in the early goings of the season.

Brown’s return, in one important respect, will signify a return to Boston’s prior self.

With Marcus Smart having recently undergone surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb, he is expected to be out another five weeks or so, meaning that he’ll likely miss the beginning of the postseason.

As for Irving, although reports say that his ailing knee has no structural damage, everything the Celtics hope to accomplish begins and ends with him. FOX Sports 1’s Chris Broussard believes that it’s no slam dunk that Irving returns to action this season, but he’s in the minority. This team has simply come too far to not give themselves every opportunity to compete at the highest level, so long as doing so doesn’t jeopardize the long term health of any of the franchise’s cornerstones.

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics are far from a finished product. With their nucleus intact and flexibility preserved, they will have another offseason with which to tinker with their rotation pieces and plug away at building a champion.

But here and now, with what they’ve got, the Celtics are much closer than any of us thought they would be at this point.

And on Sunday, when Jaylen Brown rejoins his team in the lineup, to the delight of the Boston faithful, the Celtics will be that much closer.

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