Several GM's blame the NBA's condensed schedule for rise in player injuries

Mike DePrisco
·3 min read
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Several GMs blame NBA's condensed schedule for rise in injuries originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The 2020-21 NBA season has been unlike any other, and playing a 72-game schedule in less than five months during a global pandemic has brought on significant challenges for everyone involved; especially the players.

In light of the physical toll players have dealt with during this season, which has resulted in a number of season-ending injuries recently -- most notably Jamal Murray tearing his ACL -- several NBA GM's and team officials are speaking out about the root cause.

ESPN's Baxter Holmes released a story on Wednesday detailing the problems teams are having this season and how they blame the brutal schedule for the uptick in injuries. 

"Hands down, it's the worst schedule I've seen in 25 years in the league," one assistant coach told Holmes. "It's utterly insane."

Aside from the adversity that comes with playing 72 games in such a short span of time, postponements due to COVID-19 have condensed the schedule even further. Teams like the Wizards, Grizzlies and Heat have had to undergo long stretches of playing games every other night. 

The heavy workload on players has resulted in widespread injury problems and inconsistent play. 2021 NBA All-Stars have missed 15% of games this season, which is the second-highest rate in league history behind the 2014-15 season (16.8%). Furthermore, over 52% of games have been decided by double digits this year, which would be the highest rate since the 1971-72 campaign. 

"Every dumb soft-tissue [injury] that can happen is happening and will only get worse," one NBA GM said. 

Another added, "We have defaulted to survival mode."

The Wizards have dealt with injury and COVID-19 related issues all season long. They lost Thomas Bryant to a season-ending ACL tear 10 games into the year, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal have missed time dealing with various ailments and Davis Bertans has been on and off the active roster while dealing with COVID-19 protocols and a nagging calf injury. 

A coronavirus outbreak kept them off the court for 11 days back in January and it seems like they've been playing a game every other night for the last three months. 

At least every team has lost players in the way Washington has this season, and that's not even including the lasting effects some players have dealt with since contracting COVID-19. Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who tested positive earlier this season, revealed Tuesday night he now uses an inhaler before games to open up his lungs. 

Following the conclusion of the NBA bubble in Orlando, the league cited financial concerns as the reason for such a quick turnaround for the 2020-21 season. The league has stated its goal to return to a normal calendar next season, which would result in another shortened offseason with the 2021 NBA Finals set to wrap up in late July.