Anthony Davis dropped an absolute bombshell this afternoon in his press availability. Discussing his injuries that have put him out for the remainder of the season Davis mentioned that he has played with a torn labrum in his left shoulder for three years. Three years! The New Orleans Pelicans training staff, hypothetically, knew of this injury and Davis played through.
On the plus side, this new information should eliminate once and for all any concerns about AD's toughness. For three seasons Davis has played through injury and averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. DeMarcus Cousins is the only other player league-wide to accomplish that feat. In addition Davis has finished with a player efficiency rating of 4th, 1st, and 7th in the last three seasons.
Davis said in the interview that he will be out for 4-5 months. In addition, Davis will not participate with Team USA this summer in the Olympic Games.
Anthony Davis says he's played through a torn labrum for three years— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) March 21, 2016
AD says he will not play for Team USA. "I loved playing for Team USA....It was one of the toughest decisions"— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) March 21, 2016
AD says it would have been selfish for him to play injured just to get numbers for an All NBA team so he would get a bonus.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) March 21, 2016
The negatives surrounding this situation are almost too numerous to count. Why didn't Anthony Davis have this injury corrected after his rookie season? Team USA had a training camp and a glorified scrimmage during the summer of 2013. During the 2014 season the Pelicans were fundamentally eliminated from playoff contention by mid-March and Davis tried to battle through back spasms as the season wound down.
Why? Sure Anthony Davis is a competitor and could push through. But why? Why did the team allow it?
If this were a stand alone case of medical shortsightedness one could turn a blind eye. It is most assuredly not. Jrue Holiday was supposed to be on a minutes restriction last season that went unenforced. Quincy Pondexter played through a knee injury during the push for the playoffs and subsequently has missed all of this season Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon tried to get back on the floor after suffering injuries only to find themselves back on the operating table in the last three months due to re-occurrence. Bryce Dejean-Jones was initially diagnosed with a wrist sprain, played, and then was done for the season with a wrist fracture.
For those failing to keep count, that is the complete list of players who are done for the year. Each with circumstances less than optimal surrounding their injuries. Twitter's response to this latest bit of information was incredulous.
Hey look, it’s the Pelicans team doctor! pic.twitter.com/3p0YMQCSXn— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 21, 2016
So. yeah. NOP.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 21, 2016
Not great, Pels. Not great at all.
How do you play through a torn labrum for 3 yrs? And how does a team let you do that?— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) March 21, 2016
Not a good look for a team that already has big, looming issues in injury treatment and prevention. https://t.co/8e6NfKJHn6— Rob Mahoney (@RobMahoney) March 21, 2016
Why would AD play 3 years w/a torn labrum? If so, why didn’t NOP detect or treat it? And then invest ~$130 million in him before doing so?— devin kharpertian (@uuords) March 21, 2016
Two years ago, the Pelicans were 15-24 at one point and ended the season 34-48. If AD was hurt then, why wait? If they didn't know, why not?— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) March 21, 2016
Yikes. Did the Pelican's medical staff not know? https://t.co/OOXgmwaIQH— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) March 21, 2016
It is still reasonable to expect Davis could make an All-NBA team. The crop at center is that shallow and his numbers are that good. Davis said he would be 100% by the beginning of next season but not necessarily ready at the beginning of training camp.
On one hand I am excited to see a fully healthy Davis on the floor. It is amazing he has done so well while injured. On the other hand I have no confidence in the people charged with his care. The pile of evidence has grown too large for me to accept it is just random happenstance. A long history of shortsighted behavior continues to produce the expected returns.
National media outlets will soon ask if Davis needs to leave New Orleans to achieve his potential. I might find myself agreeing with them sooner than I ever expected.