Numbers don't lie - if you want a long NBA career, learn how to shoot. A Stanford study reveals that players who drive more to the basket have a significantly greater chance of suffering an ACL injury.
Rim attackers are at greater risk for ACL injuries
Players who attack the rim are at greater risk of having ACL injuries. A study conducted by Stanford Medicine analyzed 50 players in the past 37 years. It revealed that those driving more to the basket were at risk more than the shooters.
"The study results showed that players with high career driving tendencies experienced ACL tears at a rate of 5.2% compared with those with lower driving tendency, who experienced tears at rates of 3.8%."
This just solidified the belief that players who rely on their athleticism, quickness, and leaping ability tend to get injured more often. Meanwhile, the study also revealed an interesting silver lining - players who suffered from ACL injuries could return to their old devastating selves.
As Basketball News reported, Ron Harper and Scottie Pippen were used as comparisons, and no significant changes in the style of play or production were observed after coming back from an ACL injury. Of course, each player is different, but if the same treatment were given and obeyed, there's no reason for a player not to return to his performance pre-ACL injury.
Do shooters have longer careers than rim attackers?
Vince Carter and Ray Allen were once high-flyers and rim attackers at their peak but transitioned to being 3-point shooters late in their careers. Players don't need to suffer from injuries to change their game. They need to start altering their approach to be able to play longer.
Derrick Rose tore his ACL after his MVP season. He never returned to his old self, but Rose is still in the NBA because he changed his game. D-Rose shoots 45.5 percent from the rainbow territory, the highest clip in his career. At 33 years old, the league's youngest MVP does not have to attack the rim to get buckets. He just needs to pick his spots and let the game come to him.
Young stars who rely on athleticism have developed their outside game more. Zach LaVine, a former All-Star Dunk champion, is attempting 6.9 3-point shots this year. With a different approach to his game, Zach could be a potential MVP candidate this year.
Zion Williamson, who looks like he's having trouble keeping his weight down, is sidelined due to a foot injury. While getting more fit could prevent similar weight-related injuries in the future, Zion should develop his outside shooting now if he hopes to have a long NBA career.
The Stanford Medicine study helps shed light on one of the game's mysteries: players can still bounce back from ACL injuries. However, preparation and a new approach to the game, like Rose, LaVine, and Carter did, remain crucial in prolonging a player's career.