The New Orleans Hornets announced that Anthony Davis has a sprained knee, but it could have been worse. While Davis will miss the rest of the season—three games—the knee should be healed in plenty of time for the New Orleans Pelicans' first training camp.
The news is a bit mixed:
BREAKING UPDATE:MRI on Anthony Davis showed sprained MCL and bone bruise but no structural damage. Will miss remaining 3 games. @wdsu— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherMackel) April 11, 2013
While the "no structural damage" is imprecise, since the medial collateral ligament (MCL) is in fact a structural element of the knee, the damage is not to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). That type of injury could have cost Davis up to a year.
The injury occurred on a collision, which explains why it was the MCL that was damaged. Davis' knee took more force to the side of the knee than the front, or was in the proper position. The normal mechanism for an ACL sprain involves getting hit from the front and/or twisting the knee. The MCL supports the knee when hit from the outside.
Anthony Davis' first season in the NBA has been a mixed bag, but an injury could change the way we look back at his rookie campaign. The No. 1 overall pick hasn't been bad, averaging 13 points, eight rebounds and almost two blocks a game. Those numbers have been trending up as the season's gone on, especially on defense, though he's hardly been the game-changer many expected. It's still a positive sign for his development and integration.
Davis' season and production may end up affecting where Nerlens Noel goes, since he is basically the same player with a different haircut and eyebrows as Davis.
Noel is likely still a top pick despite the injury. Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report's NBA draft expert, has Noel going first overall in his latest mock draft.
Initially, Davis was diagnosed with a vague "sprained knee," though coach Monty Williams seemed confused about the situation. Williams told USA Today that he was "glad it wasn't a buckle or a ligament or anything like that at least. You don't know that for sure, but usually when somebody lands on it, it could be a contusion."
The team's diagnosis at the game was a sprain, meaning they suspected a ligament was damaged. Manual tests by the athletic trainer, and likely the doctor on hand, will give a very good idea. Since the diagnosis was made public, there had to have been some laxity in one of the tests, indicating some level of damage and necessitating the MRI. It is likely that the manual testing indicated that the ACL was fine at the time.
The Hornets got a bit lucky, avoiding a more devastating injury to their young star. His season as a Hornet may be over, but the Pelicans can build around the big man with a big eyebrow.
Will Carroll has been writing about sports injuries for 12 years. His work has appeared at SI.com, ESPN.com and Basketball Prospectus.