If Paul George Plays On Saturday, It Would Be NBA's Fastest Return From Concussion This Year
On Tuesday, Indiana Pacers star Paul George suffered a concussion against the Miami Heat. On Thursday, George attended Pacers practice. And on Saturday…he’ll be ready to face LeBron James again?
That seems increasingly likely, Adrian Wojnarowski reports for Yahoo! Sports. The Pacers have growing confidence that George will pass the NBA’s concussion protocol and be officially cleared to play in Saturday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
If so, the four-day window between George’s injury and subsequent return would be the fastest recovery from a concussion this NBA season, counting the preseason. And it would tie Paul George with his teammate, George Hill, for an especially speedy return from a concussion under the NBA’s protocol. (Hill missed one game in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, but returned for the Pacers’ series-clinching win over the Knicks. He shot 2 for 10 that game.)
Other NBA players have made quicker comebacks from concussions. JJ Barea suffered a concussion on Nov. 4, 2012, confessing to memory loss and failing a concussion test after the game. Yet Barea was cleared to play the next night in Brooklyn and again two days later versus the Magic. (He shot 3 for 11 in those two games, and was subsequently benched for two weeks with a foot injury.)
But it’s worth repeating that it’s hard to compare one concussion to another: The level of symptoms can vary depending on the injury, the player’s medical history, and other factors. Nicola Vucevic ended up missing several weeks this NBA season, partly because it was his second concussion in a year and that complicated his recovery.
It’s also hard to make comparisons because the sample size is incredibly small—there just aren’t many concussions diagnosed in the NBA.
Writing at FiveThirty Eight, Jeff Stotts observes that only nine NBA players were officially diagnosed with concussions this year, when you factor in Summer League and the D-league. (Stotts, an athletic trainer who runs the blog In Street Clothes, drew on his proprietary database of NBA injuries to come up with that figure.)
Is it possible that more NBA players are suffering injuries and simply hiding them? Dustin Fink, who runs The Concussion Blog, has long suspected that NBA players may be under-reporting their concussions. (A trend that Fink thinks is true in other sports too.) And watching the games, there’s some reason to be skeptical. Writing at ESPN’s TrueHoop last year, Henry Abbott listed off blow after blow that left NBA players dazed and confused but not officially “concussed.”
Stotts acknowledges that “it’s possible” concussions are under-reported, but says there’s no evidence to back that up. “The NBA [trainers] do a good job protecting their players,” he stressed via email.
As part of that protection, players suffering from a concussion are gradually returned to participation in basketball-related activities. And that’s why Paul George wasn’t permitted to do very much in the Pacers practice on Thursday, other than take some shots and even attempt a dunk. Like an NFL quarterback, George even wore a red jersey to signal that other players weren’t allowed to make contact with him.
But if George plays on Saturday night, he’ll be wearing a yellow jersey—like the rest of his teammates.