The Oklahoma City Thunder were hit hard when second overall pick Chet Holmgren was ruled out for the season due to an injury that occurred during a pro-am game. Injuries can happen everywhere, we know, but it raises a lot of questions about why NBA players get to play in these games in the first place. Contract details aside, it seems like a bad idea.
While Holmgren is a rare example of a season-ending injury occurring in a pro-am game, it does happen. DeMarcus Cousins also suffered a season-ending injury while playing at one in 2019. That torn ACL is probably why Cousins isn’t a star anymore, but then again, that could have easily happened. out of season. train at a training center, in practice or even in the preseason.
From the team’s perspective, there is no benefit to their players playing. It’s all negative.
Now the Thunder will be without Holmgren for a full year, and for what? I know, I know, the Thunder probably wouldn’t have been good anyway, but for all we know, Holmgren could have been Rookie of the Year, and the team could have been a lot better as a result.
The injury now freezes Holmgren’s development, and this time next year we’ll all still be wondering what he’ll look like in the NBA and what the Thunder will look like in full force.
What can the NBA do?
At this point, probably nothing. It appears Holmgren and other players who play in pro-am games can do so under a provision in their contracts. The NBA could try to include something in the next collective bargaining agreement to limit players from playing in these games, but that seems unlikely. The reason for this is that, ironically, pro-am games have become an unofficial part of the offseason, with games even streaming on the NBA app.
It also builds excitement and keeps players in the spotlight. Players are trending on Twitter and game highlights are everywhere, even in August when the NBA is usually dead. Giving up that free advertising would not be a good idea, and they are not likely to try to ban it either because gamers clearly enjoy playing these pro-am games.
After all, the NBA doesn’t usually play the villain in these scenarios, unlike the NFL, but they’ll have to live with the consequences of being the cool league. Ultimately, these games help promote the NBA, but the more popular they become, the more players will participate in them and that will likely lead to more players getting injured.