How Well Will Kevin Durant Recover from his Achilles Injury?


To say Kevin Durant is one of the most talented players in the NBA is an understatement. He's blessed with a rare blend of size quickness, and a deft shooting touch that makes him virtually unstoppable on offense. And his defense has improved on a yearly basis.

So when Kevin went down with an untimely (is it ever timely?) achilles tendon injury during game five of the NBA finals, we all gasped. Durant was not only the key to the Warriors hopes of winning a third straight title— he was also a hot topic of conversation due to his impending free agency.

What the world wants to know is, will he be able to come back from this injury?

Achilles Ruptures - Hard to Tell


Unfortunately, when it comes to the specific case of Kevin Durant and his return from a ruptured achilles, I don't have the answer.

This is a complex injury. Durant is almost 7 feet tall. At 28 years old, he is young-- but not in NBA years. The window for professional sports success is notoriously fleeting. And Durant is competing with the top athletes in the world. He's going to be putting a lot of stress on his body by even being out there, when he does get back on the court.

While we don’t know what’s going to happen with Kevin, we can delve into the past for clues. For comparison's sake, let's take a look at some other NBA stars who have returned from Achilles tendon injuries.


KOBE BRYANT (Ruptured Achilles) Recovery Level = Good


With a good case for being one of the top 5 NBA players ever to play the game, Kobe Bryant was a true superstar. Every time Kobe touched the ball, there was a chance something amazing could happen. Case in point: Kobe scored 81 points in a single game and scored over 60 six times! 

But the impact of many years of jumping, landing, cutting, changing direction, and banging takes its toll. Considered something of a bionic, even Kobe's legendarily bulletproof body eventually wore down. And some experts think that the beginning of the end for Kobe came when he ruptured his Achilles. 

Kobe's injury, suffered near the end of the 2012 season, was a third-degree tear, meaning that the tendon ruptured completely. 

Kobe did return and had some great moments in a Lakers jersey after the injury. I would say that his return was successful overall. However, like many pros at this level who depend immensely upon their jumping ability, the Achilles injury may have sped up his eventual retirement from the sport. Because of his age and the amount of wear and tear Kobe underwent during his long career, it's hard to say conclusively. 

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL - Achilles Strain. Recovery Level = Bad

Speaking of dominant players, we have Kobe's former teammate, Shaq. With such a huge body, it's a wonder that this behemoth of a man was able to play 19 years in the NBA. Let alone to have the skills to dominate the way he did, leading the Lakers to three championships and capturing a fourth with the Miami Heat.

However, by the time he signed his final contract (with the Boston Celtics), Shaq's physical dominance had diminished as age and injuries took their toll. He became more of a role player than a superstar. Unfortunately for Shaq, his physical decline was exacerbated by a recurring Achilles strain that led to his retirement.

The injury first occurred during a Christmas Day game. It would mean that Celtics fans saw very little of Shaq on the floor wearing the green and white. Nonetheless, O'Neal did enjoy a hall-of-fame career and will be remembered as one of the best of all time.

DOMINIQUE WILKINS - Ruptured Achilles Recovery Level = Excellent

Dominque was an electric, powerful, captivating player who was aptly nicknamed "The Human Highlight Film". You might not see him compared with Michael Jordan when people talk about the greatest players of all time. But Dominique was definitely mentioned in the same breath when we talk about the most dominant players of the 1980s. When it came to  dunking the basketball with power and style, 'Nique was one of the best. He inspired an entire generation of high-flyers with his "tomahawk" and "reverse" dunks.

Unfortunately, Wilkins tore his Achilles during the 1992 season. Many expected it would be the end of his career.

They were wrong!

Dominique definitely lost some a bit of his explosiveness post-injury. But this is a case where he actually improved upon his stats after recovering. He averaged almost thirty points the season he returned. And he continued to pad his stats, averaging 25 points per game during his final 300 games. I'd call that bouncing back with success.

Got an Achilles Tendon Injury? You Aren't an NBA Player. you'll be ok!


 As you can see, an injury to the Achilles tendon can be a debilitating injury, but it doesn't have to be something that causes a long-term problem. We'll see what happens to Kevin. We hope he comes back to full strength, and we get to watch him for years to come.

But you aren't an NBA player, and you won't face the same rigors or pressure to perform. We can definitely get you back to doing what you love sooner rather than later.

If you've torn your Achilles, feel free to reach out to Dr. Elton or the staff at Vail/Summit Orthopaedics for more information on how we can help you. We are actively practicing our new, minimally invasive technique for Achilles ruptures.