is pounding the rock!
Join Date: May 2008
Location: YO MAMMA
How the Toronto Raptors
have so far dodged the injury bullet this season
TORONTO — Over the course of a four-minute conversation, DeMar DeRozan closes his hand into a fist and softly raps it against the side of his head at least four times.It makes sense: The conversation started with a reporter saying that he is not trying to jinx DeRozan. The Raptors’ swingman has missed only eight of 346 games over his five-year professional career, playing two full 82-game seasons, which is amazing.
He has not missed a game this year, too, and is slated to play in his 35th against Brooklyn on Saturday night. He is third in minutes per game and 10th in total minutes played. It is clear that DeRozan knows it is partly just good luck.He likes to believe it is something else, too.“There have been a lot of times where I’ve played hurt and not said anything,” DeRozan said Friday. “I don’t want to say it’s luck, because I have been hurt on many occasions but didn’t say anything, tried my best not to show it.
There have been a few times I’ve definitely been struggling.”The rest of his teammates have joined DeRozan this year, in a likely unsustainable run of good health. Quincy Acy missed three games because of a sprained ankle before he was traded to Sacramento, while forward Tyler Hansbrough has missed six games.
For the Raptors, that is it.It is incredible, since it seems a different catastrophic injury makes the news everyday in the NBA. Think of the stars who have missed serious time this year: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez, Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, Deron Williams, Larry Sanders, Anthony Davis and so on. On Thursday, the Suns announced Eric Bledsoe would have knee surgery. On Friday, the Hornets announced Jrue Holiday had a stress fracture in his right leg.
Alex McKechnie, the Raptors’ director of sports science, is clearly proud of his team’s health. And still, he knows he does not deserve all of the credit.“Obviously you’ve got to have some luck, some good fortune,” said McKechnie, who said injuries based on impact or trauma are largely just random chance. However, it is the soft-tissue injuries or stress-related issues that can be fought with preventative techniques, which can also help shorten recovery time.“What is important in these situations is to control your own environment as much as you possibly can. That’s what we stress to our players, and our players buy in and are committed to it.”To that end, the Raptors employ several techniques, from encouraging ample rest to talking to coaches about the workload of the starters to investing in the Catapult system, which can more effectively measure if a player is working too hard and in which area of his body he might be using too intensely. That falls in line nicely with McKechnie’s philosophy, a lot of which involves correcting “default postures” — incorrect postures brought on by overuse. The human body is not built to attempt hundreds of jumpshots a day.“Once you explain that to players, that it’s the repetition that breaks them down — they are bright guys.
They understand it,” McKechnie said. “And they can get onside with it.”“Nutrition, stretching, ice tubs: I didn’t know anything about that my first two years in the league,” DeRozan said. “I was just kind of winging it, staying up all night, not getting any rest.”To play 82 games in a year, a lot of good things have to happen. Very few players can do it over the course of their careerYet, it comes back to luck, at least in part. Westbrook, the Oklahoma City superstar, played the first 438 games of his career, and has now missed 22 (and counting) of the Thunder’s last 47 games because of three knee surgeries brought on by a fluke collision with Houston’s Patrick Beverley.
Those full seasons that DeRozan has provided? They are minor miracles.“To play 82 games in a year, a lot of good things have to happen,” McKechnie said. “Very few players can do it over the course of their career. You’re talking about things like head colds to major injuries or minor injuries. To complete 82 games is a real challenge. … It takes a special focus.
It takes digging a little deeper than normal. It takes understanding your body. It takes a body awareness, knowing when you can back off or should push through some things.”In DeRozan, McKechnie knows he has that type of player. Still, DeRozan is going to keep tapping on his head. It cannot hurt.