x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A heavy price to pay for a taxing NBA fixture list

There is mounting evidence that when you make teams play five times a week or on three consecutive days, something strange happens: players start going down with injury at an alarming rate.

This must come as a shocker to the executives ensconced in the NBA's offices in a New York skyscraper. They must be stunned beyond words.

There is mounting evidence that when you make teams play five times a week or on three consecutive days, something strange happens: players start going down with injury at an alarming rate.

Some big stars are getting hurt. Some just for a while - Chris Paul (hamstring), Derrick Rose (toe, back), Dwyane Wade (ankle), Manu Ginobili (hand, rib), Dirk Nowitzki (knee), Carmelo Anthony (groin). Some for the season - Chauncey Billups (Achilles), Ricky Rubio (knee), Al Horford (chest).

According to the NBA, the number of players missing one game because of injury during the first two months went from 35 last year to 57 this season - an increase of 62.9 per cent. Overall injuries were up from 133 to 152.

The NBA claims the big jump in one-day absences is largely due to coaches being cautious not to play someone with a minor injury in consecutive games.

Some coaches are making a concerted effort to cut into their players' minutes. NBA statistics show the top six players on each team are averaging 4.3 minutes less playing time this season.

But these are not 16-year-old high school kids oblivious to the laws of normal physical endurance.

Trying to cram 61 games into a condensed season after a five-month lockout means there is going to be a price to pay.