Call it the NetsDaily Theory! And why not? On July 29, poster rbnynyc11 wrote a lengthy analysis of previous achilles ruptures. His theory: players who tore the Achilles in the leg they use for their first step most often —for right-handed players, that would be the left Achilles— fared worse in their recovery than players who injured the opposite leg. Durant, a right-handed player, tore his right Achilles tendon. So, the theory says, Durant is more likely to return at a high level after Achilles surgery.
Well, SNY’s Ian Begley, as part of a report on KD’s prognosis, ran the theory past some orthopedists ... and more than one of them thought there might be some validity to it.
“It absolutely does,” says Dr. Ettore Vulcano, a foot and ankle surgeon at Mount Sinai West. “I don’t think it’s that the recovery is slower or quicker. I think it’s really more of the amount of stress you’re putting on that tendon.”
Adds Dr. J. Turner Vosseller, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia: “That’s actually pretty interesting to think about. I suspect because that’s the more dominant foot when they play, that it’s probably true…. But I’m not aware of any study or anything that’s objectively looked at that.”
Other surgeons were unconvinced.
”That’s probably a bit of wishful thinking,” Dr Evan Argintar, a former member of the Wizards medical staff, says.
”We haven’t seen any data (to support it),” says Dr. Kevin Stone, an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and the chairman of the Stone Research Foundation.
Our guy, rbnynyc11, suggested there was a 100 percent correlation, as Begley accurately notes...
For evidence, the user cited Dominique Wilkins, who tore his right Achilles and performed well post-surgery. The user also cited right-handed players who tore their left Achilles and didn’t fare as well post-surgery, such as Kobe Bryant, Elton Brand and Wes Matthews.
Begley quotes Brand on the issue of that first step after surgery.
“Once I started playing, mentally for me it was tough for me to jump off my left foot again,” Brand told insidesocal.com. “I didn’t have the same explosiveness that I had. I regained and then I relost it. I didn’t have it. I had to change my game a little bit where I jumped off two feet and I was a little bit slower.”
Of course, every injury is different, every player is different and increasingly, we’ve learned every medical/performance staff is different ... the Nets staff is generally considered one of the best, if not the best, in the NBA.
Moreover, we are told (and not by rbnynyc11) that the location of the tear can determine how quickly a player will return and at what level. The higher the tear in the calf muscle, the better the chances for recovery. Blood flow is better, we are told, the higher up in the calf ... and that should aid in recovery. As video of the injury showed, the rupture seemed to take place high up on the calf.
Most of Begley’s group of experts believe that KD’s performance will not match his pre-injury level.
“I would be very surprised if he is the same player (after surgery),” Dr. John Wilckens, chief of sports medicine in the surgery division at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Begley. “…. No matter how gifted the surgeon may be or how well the recovery goes, I don’t think he’s ever 100 percent (after surgery). Ninety-five percent (of strength returned in his surgically-repaired leg) is probably a good goal. For most of us, 95 percent is excellent, but when you’re playing at the NBA level, championship level then maybe 95 percent isn’t good enough.”
Does that matter much? Begley says studies suggest a 95 percent return would be a big plus for the Nets.
Still, if Durant gets to 95 percent strength in his surgically repaired leg, that would be considered a success. A 2013 study stated that only eight of 18 players who suffered a major Achilles injury over a 23-year span (1988-2011) returned to play more than two seasons.
Meanwhile, in L.A., Omar Meez posted new pictures of Durant Wednesday showing him walking without crutches and dribbling a ball.
The recovery and rehab is in fact on track, Begley reports.
Achilles rehab process typically includes walking without the support of a boot after two months, running at the three-month mark and doing on-court drills at four months.
”Typically by six months, they’re getting to 85-90 percent in terms of their strength restoration,” Dr. Laith Jazrawi (orthopedic surgeon and Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at NYU Langone Health) says.
That kind of progression would be ideal for both Durant and the Nets, who hope near the top of the Eastern Conference standings whenever their star returns to the court.
So, we wait ... on KD’s return and on whether rbnynyc11’s theory is born out. Hope so.