Dariq Whitehead, the 22nd overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, will undergo surgery to treat a stress reaction in his left shin. As a result, he’ll miss the remainder of the season.
Whitehead, one of Brooklyn’s two first-round picks last June, along with Noah Clowney, is now facing his third lower-leg surgery in the last year-and-a-half. During his lone season as a Duke Blue Devil, Whitehead missed four games after undergoing surgery on the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot before the season.
However, the bone did not heal properly, and Whitehead went under the knife again just prior to the draft. That surgery was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley, who is also the Brooklyn Nets team orthopedist.
Though Whitehead missed Las Vegas Summer League while rehabbing, he recovered by the fall, and appeared in 17 games for the Long Island Nets, where he averaged 8.8 points in 18.5 minutes a night for the G League squad. The 19-year-old also appeared in two games with the big leaguers in Brooklyn, and scored his first NBA point in a November victory over the Miami Heat:
Dariq Whitehead scores his first NBA point on the free-throw line, and his teammates love it: pic.twitter.com/IETJ3eFvQB— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) November 26, 2023
While Whitehead’s recovery process appeared to be going smoothly, the left shin problems persisted. He told NetsDaily’s Jordan Greene in December: “In terms of my recovery process, I feel like I’m there. I just got to get over these shin splints in my left leg, which is the only thing that is not letting me jump the way I want to jump.”
Brooklyn Head Coach Jacque Vaughn broke the unfortunate news to reporters before Saturday’s home game against the Houston Rockets: “So, he’s actually going to have season-ending surgery on Monday to address the stress reaction, but all signs and diagnosis and consultation: He’ll miss the rest of this season. And then, geared towards finishing and being ready to complete his career and with us, playing. Meaning that he’s just gonna get through these months of rehab, and look forward to him being back on the floor.”
Vaughn added that it is too early to speculate on whether Whitehead will be ready for Las Vegas Summer League, but noted that, “after the surgery on Monday, we’ll probably have an update on how the surgery went and have some more details for you.”
Until then, all we know is that Dariq Whitehead’s 2023-’24 season has come to a close.