Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nerlens Noel has been diagnosed with a concussion following the frightening fall he took on Tuesday night whilst playing against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 24-year-old had to be stretchered off the court after an elbow in the face from Wolves small forward Andrew Wiggins sent him to the floor, where he suffered another blow to his head.
The Thunder published an update on the player's condition following his release from the hospital, revealing that there were no fractures but also no timeline for a return as he is now in the NBA's concussion protocol.
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Nerlens Noel Medical Update.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 9, 2019
•Suffered a concussion.
•Has been released from the hospital.
•Has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol.
•No predetermined timetable to complete the protocol
Full news release: https://t.co/NeKnkr4ZeI
"The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that center Nerlens Noel sustained a concussion after suffering a blow to the head from Andrew Wiggins’ elbow that resulted in him losing consciousness while being knocked to the floor at the 5:16 mark of the third quarter during last night’s game versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol," a statement on the team's website reads.
"Noel was held overnight at OU Hospital for tests and observations and has been released today.
"Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Noel will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case."
Wiggins, who was going up for a dunk when he hit Noel in the face, told reporters that the contact was not intentional after the game.
"I just tried to make an aggressive move and dunk," the Timberwolves forward explained. "He tried to contest it. I think he fell wrong. I didn't really see it until I saw him on the ground. Hopefully he's good. I hope nothing but the best for him. I hope he gets healthy soon and comes back stronger."
Prayers up for Nerlens Noel. The Thunder big man caught an elbow, hit his head and had to be stretchered off 🙏 pic.twitter.com/22qPKtz1l6— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 9, 2019
What This Means
Noel had been averaging 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per game prior to his injury but will have to pass through the league's concussion protocol before he's cleared to play again.
His absence should mean more minutes for 29-year-old forward Patrick Patterson, who has averaged just one minute more than his stricken teammate this term.