New York Liberty rookie sensation Sabrina Ionescu will miss nearly one month of action, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, after suffering a Grade 3 lateral left ankle sprain during a 84-78 loss to the Atlanta Dream Friday night; ESPN’s Holly Rowe was the first the report the severity of the injury as well as that Ionescu’s injury likely won’t require surgery.
The occurred with a little over five minutes remaining in the second quarter when Ionescu stepped on the foot of Dream forward Betnijah Laney while pushing the ball in transition. She immediately crumpled into a heap, grasping her left ankle and screaming in pain.
Grade 3 sprains are the most significant form of the injury, meaning at least 50% of the involved ligamentous tissue is ruptured. Luckily, the lateral – or outside – ankle has a rich blood supply, meaning that injuries can often heal without the need for surgical intervention.
Two important steps in the early rehabilitation process are reducing the amount of swelling and restoring full range of motion to the ankle within the first couple of weeks; Rowe reported that Ionescu will begin working on these steps in the coming days. After pain and swelling are under control and range of motion has been obtained, the focus of rehabilitation shifts to strengthening the musculature that supports the ankle as well as improving the athlete’s balance. While recovery times are variable, most athletes who suffer Grade 3 ankle sprains return to the court in 4-8 weeks.
Ankle sprains are an unfortunately common injury in sports, particularly basketball; they can be difficult to prevent and have a tendency to recur. The most effective way to prevent ankle sprains – whether it’s the first or the tenth – is to utilize external support, such as athletic tape or an ankle brace.
Ionescu was the first overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft after a marvelous, award-laden career at the University of Oregon. Through three games, the Liberty’s phenom was averaging 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game on .452/.350/1.ooo shooting splits.
It will interesting to monitor how the Liberty handle Ionescu’s injury in the coming months. New York currently sits at 0-3 overall and their regular season play ends on September 12th, roughly six weeks away. It would not be surprising to see the Liberty shutdown their star should they continue to falter and/or Ionescu’s injury require more than one month to recover from.