Blow Out a Knee, Improve Your Shot

Blow Out a Knee, Improve Your Shot

Athletes who tear an anterior cruciate ligament will inevitably face questions about whether they'll ever be the same.

In basketball, when players return from this injury, many of them definitely aren't the same: They're better—at least when it comes to the crucial area of midrange shooting.

Because the rehabilitation for the injury allows them to stand, but not to do anything vigorous, NBA players who suffer it find themselves making do by playing what amounts to an endless game of H-O-R-S-E.

Nene, a Washington Wizards center, was a 23.8% shooter from midrange before he tore his ACL in 2005. Since then, he's knocking down about 41% of his midrange attempts.

Before tearing his ACL in 2008 as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jason Smith shot a below-average 36% from midrange. Since returning, he's shot 45%, including 50.3% (78-for-155) this season playing for New Orleans. "It kind of gives you a laser focus on shooting, because it's really all you can work on for a while," said Smith. "Now, my midrange jumper is a big part of my game, where it really wasn't before."

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