James Young suffered a right shoulder subluxation in the third quarter of Wednesday's Maine Red Claws game after colliding with an opponent on a fastbreak opportunity. The Boston Celtics announced on Friday that Young has slight muscular damage and will be reevaluated in one to two weeks, with the hopes of avoiding surgery.
"They said I'll be out for a few weeks, but who knows, I just need to get it stronger every day and try to treat it," Young said before Friday's 101-95 loss to the Knicks. "It's frustrating, but I just need to keep my head up and keep my confidence high."
More on James Young
More on James Young
Boston's first round pick in June's draft has progressed on both ends of the floor, largely due to the guidance from assistant coach Ronald Nored, but this injury is a setback for his development.
"There was a little bit of a muscular damage that he can rehab, hopefully, without having to have surgery," coach Brad Stevens told reporters. "He's going to be rehabbing over the next couple of weeks and then we'll reevaluate, but it's pretty typical of a subluxed shoulder."
While the Celtics didn't specify if Young's "muscular damage" is a tear to the rotator cuff or labrum, or even just damage to the cartilage or bones, there is no guarantee it will heal without surgery.
The best-case scenario is obviously that Young is able to recovery and return in less than a month, but it is worth looking at the grim prospect of surgery; after all, whether full or empty, it's all the same.
A number of different players have sustained similar injuries in the past and we can look at their recoveries to get an idea of how Young's could go.
Most recently, New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon got injured in a similar freak accident on November 22, and it was revealed he suffered a torn labrum. He has not played since and will be out for another 3-to-4 weeks before deciding on surgery.
Last season, Michigan State guard Gary Harris played through a subluxed shoulder throughout the entire season and elected to not have surgery, much to the dismay of NBA scouts, whom preferred to see him get any damage fixed before entering the pros.
Rudy Gay suffered the same injury in 2011 and after spending one month sidelined, his shoulder didn't heal properly, so the team opted for him to have surgery. He was able to return the following season, but his shooting percentages took two full years to return to normalcy.
And that is exactly the chief concern for Young.
At only 19-years-old, shooting the ball effectively is truly his only chance of making it onto the floor for consistent minutes early in his career. If he takes years to get back to his current level, like Gay did, then it will set back his development significantly.
Even if Young doesn't have surgery, shoulder subluxations have a relatively high-rate of recurrence for teenagers. Channing Frye first subluxed his shoulder in 2011 and was fortunate enough to return to the floor in only two weeks, but one full calendar year later, he re-injured his shoulder, which forced him to have surgery.
Despite the concerns, there are some silver linings regarding Young's injury.
For one, it happened to his right shoulder, and not his left, so his shooting arm remains unaffected. Though the off-hand still plays an integral role on a jump shot in terms of balance and control, Young's pristine shooting should remain intact.
Furthermore, it appears that most players have seen their shooting percentages return after sustaining shoulder subluxations and dislocations, though some players, like Rudy Gay, take longer to make a full recovery.
For Young, it's crucially important that he makes a full recovery, whether or not it takes surgery to get there, but we must look at the big picture here and be honest with ourselves: Young is just one piece of an overflow of assets that the front office has accumulated.
Even in a worst-case scenario, Boston will still have two 2015 first rounders and Philly's second round pick, likely three first round picks in 2016, the right to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017, and two first rounders in 2018. Not to mention all the better-developed youthful players like Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley.
Young could absolutely be a central part of the team sometime down the road, but he is still just one of many important pieces. James Young's shoulders will not carry the weight of the potential future successes of the Boston Celtics, especially as he recovers these next few weeks.