Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will miss the beginning of the 2014-15 season due to a Jones fracture in his foot. The injury almost always requires surgery and will likely keep Durant out for six to eight weeks, meaning the Thunder will be forced to spend an early portion of the year depending on Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and others to shoulder larger loads.
But what is a Jones fracture and is it actually a more serious injury than the initial diagnosis suggests? Let's take a look at the star's injury and how it has affected other NBA players.
What is a Jones fracture?
A Jones fracture is a broken bone in the midsection of the fifth metatarsal of the foot, at the base near the little toe. It can cause pain and swelling if not treated. As GM Sam Presti said in the team's official statement Sunday, the injury was discovered because Durant informed the team he was having issues after practice.
It's also challenging to fix as a result of "poor blood supply to that area, a problem that can result in increased healing time and a greater likelihood for refracture." The injury is primarily caused by stress rather than a single acute instance of contact, which is why the Thunder say they caught it early.
How is the injury treated?
There are several ways to treat a Jones fracture, but in the NBA, pretty much every team opts to have players undergo surgery. Odds of reinjury are higher with the Jones fracture than other foot breaks to that area, so surgical procedures are more common than with similar foot injuries. The most common surgery to repair a Jones fracture involves placing a screw into the foot to stabilize the area around the injury and minimize the amount of time required for immobilization.
What's OKC's plan for treating KD?
The Thunder and Durant haven't completely committed to a plan yet, but "all signs" point towards the surgical procedure, according to Presti. The Thunder GM was confident during the press conference announcing the injury Sunday, pointing out how relatively standard this surgery has become in recent years.
"Jones fracture is, from what I've been told, the most common surgical procedure performed on NBA players as of late," Presti said. "There's enough of a body of work to look at an average recovery time."
The Thunder seemed happy to catch the injury before it got any worse. The team will soon decide the course of action, but count on surgery and a similar rehabilitation process to most Jones fractures.
What is the typical recovery period?
The Thunder have yet to commit to a timetable, but it's usually around six to eight weeks, which would put Durant's return somewhere around late November or early December. That would mean missing around 20 games, but wouldn't represent a complete disaster for OKC.
Other NBA players have missed more time when dealing with similar injuries, though, so the six- to eight-week suggestion is not set in stone. It remains to be seen if Durant's injury is more or less severe than a typical Jones fracture.
Who else has had a Jones fracture?
You don't hear the phrase a ton, but it's actually a common injury in the NBA. Over the past few years, there have been several examples of guys needing surgery to repair fractures to the fifth metatarsal. Here are some of the notable ones:
- Blazers guard C.J. McCollum needed surgery to repair a Jones fracture before the 2013-14 season even began. He didn't make his debut with Portland until Jan. 8, although it's worth pointing out that a similar injury sidelined McCollum during his senior season at Lehigh.
- Nets big man Brook Lopez underwent a pair of season-ending surgeries back on Jan. 4, including a procedure to repair a Jones fracture. The other procedure was a "first metatarsal osteotomy, in which another bone was repositioned in his foot to 'unload and protect the injured area.'" He missed the final four months of the 2013-14 season. Lopez also suffered a similar injury back in 2011.
- Lakers rookie Julius Randle has dealt with a Jones fracture, and had a screw inserted into his foot during his senior year of high school. The injury didn't require surgery over the summer despite frequent speculation, but it's going to be something to watch for the young forward as he starts his career in L.A.
- Warriors guard Nemanja Nedovic missed most of the summer, including the 2014 FIBA World Cup, while recovering from a Jones fracture. He's expected to be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Rasheed Wallace's career was essentially ended by a Jones fracture, as he missed four months during the 2012-13 season with the injury before making one final appearance in Knicks uniform in mid-April.