C. Martin1, S. Kluzek2,3,4, G. Collins5,6, G. Bullock2,3,7
1ATI Physical Therapy, Greenville, SC, United States, 2University of Oxford, Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis, Oxford, United Kingdom, 3University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Oxford, United Kingdom, 4University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 5University of Oxford, Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Oxford, United States, 6Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom, 7Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Winston-Salem, NC, United States

Background: Professional basketball is a contact sport with high injury incidence across multiple body regions. National Basketball Association (NBA) rookie players are assumed to suffer more injuries. However, there is a paucity of research on injury incidence and temporal trends among rookie NBA players. Further, there is a need to improve understanding on the impact of injury rookie season on career longevity.

Purpose: To assess temporal injury trends among injured rookie players between 2007-2008 and 2018-2019 seasons and determine the influence of injury rookie season on career longevity.

Methods: Publicly available data on NBA players was extracted through computer iterative repeatable methods. Players were included if they were 18 years or older and competed in at least one NBA season between 2007-2008 and 2018-2019 seasons. Injuries were categorized by body part (e.g. ankle, knee), and incidence was calculated for athlete game exposures (AE’s). Injury severity was stratified into Slight (1 game), Minor (2-3 games), Moderate (4-13 games), or Severe (14+ games) injury groups. Injury incidence was calculated for those who did or did not sustain an injury rookie season, and stratified by body part, and severity. The effect of injury during the rookie season on career longevity was assessed using Poisson logistic regression models adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), position, rookie year, the severity of injury, and overall draft pick number.

Results: 904 players (Age: 27.0 (SD 4.2); BMI: 24.8 (SD 1.8) m/kg2; Seasons played: 9.5 (SD 4.4) seasons) were recorded between 2007-2008 and 2018-2019 seasons. The ankle demonstrated the greatest injury incidence among players injured rookie season at 3.02 per 1000 AE’s, followed by the knee (2.37 per 1000 AE’s). Yearly combined injury incidence peaked in 2011-2012 for all players (Rookies: 24.64 per 1000 AE’s; Veterans: 17.84 per 1000 AE’s), but rookie players demonstrated higher peak incidence compared to veteran players for the ankle (8.74 per 1000 AE’s) in 2011-2012, and knee (3.67 per 1000 AE’s) in 2007-2008. No relationship was observed between injury status during rookie season and career longevity (Unadjusted: -0.02 years (95% CI: -0.9, 0.05), p = 0.629; Adjusted: -0.15 years (95% CI: -0.44, 0.16), p = 0.322). Compared to the first pick in the draft, the sixtieth pick demonstrated decreased career longevity by 0.3 years (-0.005 (95% CI: -0.007, -0.002), p < 0.001).

Conclusion(s): The most common injury was to the ankle and knee throughout the career of players sustaining an injury rookie season. Rookies demonstrated higher peak incidence and variability for the ankle and knee compared to veteran players between 2007-2008 and 2018-2019. No relationship between injury rookie season and longevity was observed, which may reflect the influence of cumulative injury burden versus injury at a specific time point.

Implications: These results demonstrate the need for injury mitigation programs for the ankle and knee prior to rookie season. Furthermore, due to higher injury incidence at specific time points among rookies, research is needed to understand implications of rule changes, draft demographics, and shortened seasons among rookies to improve career longevity.

Funding, acknowledgements: No funding sources to acknowledge

Keywords: Professional Basketball, Injury Temporal Trends, Ankle and Knee

Topic: Sport & sports injuries

Did this work require ethics approval? No
Institution: N/A
Committee: N/A
Reason: The data extracted for analyses was from open publicly available data sources; no recruitment was performed.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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