What’s a Realistic Timeline for Suns to Expect Kevin Durant Back?

Phoenix Suns F Kevin Durant ankle injury analysis and what it means for the Suns

Approximately an hour and ten minutes before game time, Phoenix Suns F Kevin Durant injured his ankle while attempting a layup in pre-game warmups. Unbeknownst to the sellout crowd in attendance for Durant’s desert debut, a walking boot was put on his left foot minutes before tipoff, ruling him out for the contest. 

The following day, an MRI reveled a grade 2 sprain of Durant’s left ankle and the Suns announced he will be re-evaluated in three weeks. 

What is a grade 2 sprain?

Ankle sprains are separated into three categories depending on the conditions of the injury and symptoms. All ankle sprains are results from a rolling or twisting motion and up to 90% of ankle sprains are inversion injuries, meaning the foot faced inwards. Durant’s injury was no different from a typical ankle sprain seen from people from all different walks of life. 

The following is a description of a grade 2 ankle sprain according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:

Grade 2: 

– Partial tearing of the ligament 

-Significant tenderness, bruising, and swelling around the ankle

-Severe pain with weightbearing

-Slight instability on examination

It possible that Durant has a partial tear or tears in his anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). Both the ATFL and CFL ligaments are supporting ligaments for the ankle and Durant likely has a small tear in one or both. 

Rest will be the biggest factor for Durant. With a three week timeline, the injury will mend and Durant will likely not require surgery. It is also likely that Durant will begin to test his ankle mobility soon with daily stretching and strengthening exercises. 

What is a realistic timeline for return?

The Suns are in desperate need for Durant’s production in the lineup. But with a three week injury timeline, it is likely that the Suns don’t rush Durant back. The Suns are currently in a playoff position and do not need the risk of Durant re-injuring his ankle. 

The risk for injuring the same ankle in ankle sprains is high. If the tendons do not heal properly and the strength and range of motion doe not return, the ankle will not be prepared for everyday life, let alone the left leg of one of the NBA’s greats. 

Players in the past have come back from grade 2 ankle sprains with ease. No need to worry about the last effects on the ankle, however time is needed for tendons to heal properly.

A realistic timeline is three weeks exactly. It is not likely that Durant will have any set backs during rehab as the injury was not severe enough for risk. However, the Suns and Durant need health in the playoffs so risking a return now is not wise.

Will this affect Durant’s play?

It is unlikely that Durant will be affected from the ankle injury. With proper rehab and strength in Durant’s ankle tendons, it is unlikely that Durant will physically be affected by this injury. 

It would not be surprising to see Durant on a slight minutes restriction depending on how the ankle feels upon the first game. It would also not be surprising to see Durant in an ankle guard when he returns back to basketball activities until he and the Suns feel confident in his ability to trust his ankle yet again. 

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