Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

April 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Knees

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 1:08 am

I’ve yet to touch on either of this week’s two major knee injuries. The first was suffered by Boston Celtics big man Leon Powe, who tore his left ACL and meniscus in Monday’s Game 2 against Chicago. While the Celtics hardly missed Powe in tonight’s lopsided win at the United Center, they will before this postseason is over. Glen Davis has had a strong postseason, but in my book Powe was the best of the non-Kevin Garnett Boston power forwards. Certainly, he provides the most scoring punch. Also, there’s an issue of sheer depth with Garnett and Powe both sidelined. Brian Scalabrine made his return to the lineup Thursday to help alleviate that somewhat.

More troubling than the implications for the Lakers is what the injury means for Powe. He initially tore his left ACL in high school, returning too quickly by his own admission to play his senior year. (Also, naturally, the treatment players who suffer major injuries as prepsters fails to compare with what they get in the pros.) After a strong first year at Cal, Powe underwent two more surgeries on the same knee, including what is described as a “reconstruction.” The history of knee problems was a major reason Powe dropped to the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Powe this time around; he’s scheduled to become a free agent this summer, and surely will miss part of the 2009-10 season. Doc Rivers has already spoken up on Powe’s behalf. We’ll see how that plays out.

I was in attendance for the second knee injury, the ruptured quadriceps tendon suffered by Houston’s Dikembe Mutombo. When he stayed on the ground writhing in obvious agony, it quickly became evident this was a serious and possibly career-ending injury. Despite the generic preliminary “sprained knee” diagnosis, that was confirmed when reporters came out of the Rockets locker room saying Mutombo had told them, “For me, basketball is over.”

Mutombo was likely to retire at season’s end either way, so this isn’t a long-term loss. Still, you’d have liked to see one of the NBA’s most respected players go out on his own terms and not because of a gruesome injury. The good news is the tributes to Mutombo over the last few days have shown how much he meant to everyone involved in the NBA. Even I’ve forgiven him for the 1994 playoffs.

– A couple of notes on league-wide trends. David Aldridge referenced our research in a very good piece on how the hand-checking restrictions have changed the way teams play defense and put increased emphasis on defending without fouling. Also, M. Haubs over at The Painted Area put together an update on those same trends, emphasizing the league reaching or nearing new standards in terms of 3P%, FT% (surprisingly) and eFG% as well as how the San Antonio Spurs’ clutch shooting allowed NBA teams to crack the century mark in average scoring for the first time since 1994-95.

– Lastly, join me tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern at Baseball Prospectus to chat about the NBA postseason and whatever else is on your mind. If you can’t make it then, you can leave your question ahead of time to be answered during the chat.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress