Joel Embiid's Back Injury Should Not Keep Him From Going No. 1 in the NBA Draft | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Joel Embiid's Back Injury Should Not Keep Him From Going No. 1 in the NBA Draft

June 18, 2014

Must See Basketball Videos

Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid has the size, talent and upside to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in next week’s NBA Draft. He has looked great in workouts, moving extremely well for a 7-footer.

Still, some draft analysts are concerned about Embiid’s ability to perform in the NBA due to a recent back injury. In February, Embiid suffered a lumbar stress fracture known as spondylolysis. Although recent reports say his back is doing great, worries persist about drafting a center with injury concerns No. 1 overall.

Since Tim Duncan was chosen first overall in 1997, the following centers have been selected with the first overall pick: Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani, Greg Oden and Anthony Davis. All of these players have suffered injuries, including hernias, knee surgeries, back surgeries, chronic foot pain and foot surgeries. Although some of them have been productive despite their injuries, a center chosen with the top pick has been a 50/50 proposition at best in recent years.

RELATED: How You Can Jump as High as Andrew Wiggins

Can Embiid be productive in the NBA? How serious is his injury?

On Philly.com, Dr. Robert Senior wrote, "Spondylolysis is the most common lower-back injury associated with overuse in sports and is especially common in growing adolescents and teens. While Embiid recently turned 20, his tremendous height and status as a relative newcomer to the sport of basketball (he first played competitively in 2011) would suggest a higher risk for such an injury."

Embiid is not the first big man to suffer a lumbar stress fracture. While he was in college, Emeka Okafor missed two Big East tournament games with a lower-back stress fracture before leading UConn to a national championship. Okofar then saw specialist Dr. Andrew Dossett and, according to a March 2004 ESPN story, "Dr. Dossett told Emeka that he finds this problem in hundreds of elite athletes, and they're still playing. What happens is the stress fracture is on a tiny little part of the bone, and then the extra motion triggers muscle around it to go into pain and then a spasm, and that's when you see Emeka's face wince. He told him it's not a long-term problem."

Selected second in the 2004 Draft behind Dwight Howard, Okofar has averaged 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds in nine NBA seasons.

When basketball players get diagnosed with spondylolysis, they must rest until they recover fully. If they resume activity too soon, they risk developing spondylolisthesis, which is a worsening of the fracture to the point that one vertebra slips forward, creating a gradual worsening of leg pain, weakness, neurological changes and the possibility of career-ending surgery.

RELATED: Athlete's Guide to Back Injury Rehabilitation

Between his injury in early February and the NBA Draft in late June, Embiid has been fortunate to have enough time to heal, restore strength and gain weight. If he has healed completely, the long-term effects of his injury should be non-existent. Re-injury is extremely uncommon when an athlete has no underlying cause for bone loss or fracture.

Embiid has only been playing basketball competitively for three years. He has demonstrated an ability to quickly pick up the game and dominate both ends of the floor. Even with this injury, it would appear that his best years are ahead of him.

Topics: BASKETBALL | NEWS
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

Even while recovering from a recent foot surgery and back injury Joel Embiid was chosen number three overall by the Phildelphia 76ers in the NBA draft...

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Sammy Watkins Talks About His First Year in the NFL

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Nike Unveils 2015 Pro Bowl Uniforms

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Cardale Jones Returns to Ohio State University

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Study Ranks Paleo As Second-Worst Diet

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

adidas Unveils New Ultra Boost Running Shoe

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

adidas Set to Drop the D Lillard 1

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

'X-Men: Apocalypse' Gets 3 New Castmates

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Tyga to Star in New Reality Show

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury