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Orthop J Sports Med


BACKGROUND: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are significant injuries in elite-level basketball players. In-game statistical performance after ACL reconstruction has been demonstrated; however, few studies have reviewed functional performance in National Basketball Association (NBA)-caliber athletes after ACL reconstruction.

PURPOSE: To compare NBA Combine performance of athletes after ACL reconstruction with an age-, size-, and position-matched control group of players with no previous reported knee injury requiring surgery. We hypothesized that there is no difference between the 2 groups in functional performance.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: A total of 1092 NBA-caliber players who participated in the NBA Combine between 2000 and 2015 were reviewed. Twenty-one athletes were identified as having primary ACL reconstruction prior to participation in the combine. This study group was compared with an age-, size-, and position-matched control group in objective functional performance testing, including the shuttle run test, lane agility test, three-quarter court sprint, vertical jump (no step), and maximum vertical jump (running start).

RESULTS: With regard to quickness and agility, both ACL-reconstructed athletes and controls scored an average of 11.5 seconds in the lane agility test and 3.1 seconds in the shuttle run test (P = .745 and .346, respectively). Speed and acceleration was measured by the three-quarter court sprint, in which both the study group and the control group averaged 3.3 seconds (P = .516). In the maximum vertical jump, which demonstrates an athlete's jumping ability with a running start, the ACL reconstruction group had an average height of 33.6 inches while the controls averaged 33.9 inches (P = .548). In the standing vertical jump, the ACL reconstruction group averaged 28.2 inches while the control group averaged 29.2 inches (P = .067).

CONCLUSION: In athletes who are able to return to sport and compete at a high level such as the NBA Combine, there is no significant difference in any combine performance test between players who have had primary ACL reconstruction compared with an age-, size-, and position-matched control group.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Athletes with previous ACL reconstruction who are able to return to high-level professional basketball have equivalent performance measures with regard to speed, quickness, and jumping ability as those athletes who have not undergone knee surgery.

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