Detroit Pistons backup center Marvin Bagley had successful surgery on his injured right hand today, the team announced. Surgery was required to repair a fracture of the third and fourth metacarpals in his hand in the team’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
The big man has had various injuries and ailments in his brief career, including missing the first 13 games this season with a knee injury suffered in the preseason. The team says Bagley will be reexamined in six weeks.
In 25 games this season, Bagley is averaging a career lows in points (10.6), rebounds (5.9) and shot attempts. With the emergence of rookie Jalen Duren, Bagley has been forced to acclimate to a bench role. He was starting to find his groove, including scoring 18 points and a season-high plus-21 in Detroit’s recent victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bagley signed a three-year, $37.5 million deal in the offseason.
It’s rare for a player to fracture multiple metacarpal bones at the same time, according to sports injury analyst Jeff Stotts, who runs the website In Street Clothes. Of the players known to have suffered multiple fractures only Kevin love underwent surgery.
Stotts highlighted a piece he wrote in 2019 when Steph Curry broke a metacarpal in his hand.
The necessary recovery time normally depends on multiple factors, including the specific metacarpal fractured. Breaks to the second and third metacarpals, located below the pointer and middle fingers, are easier to manage as they are anchored to the bones of the wrist and as a result are largely immobile. The fourth and the fifth metacarpals, located beneath the ring and pinkie fingers respectively, are more mobile in order to allow motion at the wrist and pinkie. The mobility here often necessitates additional healing time.
The nature of the break can effect recovery time as it influences eventual treatment options. If the broken pieces of the bone remain aligned, it is considered a non-displaced fracture. If the position of the bone shifts after the break, it is considered displaced and surgery is often needed to insure a proper union of the bone fragments.
The InStreetClothes.com/SMART database has seven recent examples of second metacarpal fractures, including Westbrook, Danny Green, and Nikola Vucevic. Of these seven players, four required surgery. The average missed time for these injuries is 16 games. The recovery time for non-surgical cases is cut in half as these individuals missed an average of just eight games.
Bagley had surgery on his third and fourth metacarpals, according to the Pistons, and Stotts notes that a fracture of the fourth metacarpal often requires additional healing time.
If Bagley missed a total of eight weeks (six weeks recovery and two weeks conditioning) that would mean he could see the floor around March 7, which is Detroit’s 66th game of the season.
In the meantime, it seems Detroit is committed to relying on a starting unit featuring both Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart with Beef Stew and the rookie staggering their minutes more so at least one of them can be on the floor at nearly all times.
In Wednesday’s victory over the Warriors, the Pistons did not play any big men off the bench.