Juancho Hernangomez has undergone successful core muscle surgery

Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) motions after a play in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Pepsi Center.
Dec 14, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) motions after a play in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning, the Denver Nuggets announced that Juancho Hernangomez underwent successful surgery to repair a core muscle injury.

The surgery took place on Thursday morning and was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia; the same doctor and location that Will Barton, Mason Plumlee, and Jamal Murray had their core muscle injuries treated.

This announcement comes after another tough year for Hernangomez, who was looking for a bounce-back season after getting mononucleosis and missing all but 25 games in 2017-18.

Hernangomez played in 70 total games in 2018-19, which was an improvement, but his season took turn for the worse right around the start of the new year. On January 10th, Hernangomez revealed to reporters that he was dealing with an injury that he described as “in the groin”.

“My groin is killing me,” Hernangomez told the media on January 10th after Denver’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. “I got something there. I have been through pain, but it is day-to-day. Some days are feeling better — like I can play — and other days I am [in] a lot of pain, but it is what it is. I don’t want to pull any excuses. I tried to help the team in other things. The team stepped up and won these games.

“It’s in the groin. It is a lot of pain.”

Injuries to the muscles in the core are commonly mistaken as groin injuries being that the pain and discomfort are similar in location and intensity. That is why when Denver announced that Hernangomez had a surgical procedure to fix an issue in his core, it made sense why his season took such a dive. Hernangomez’s was playing through his injury for the better part of four months and it reflected in his play.

From the start of the season until January 10th, when Hernangomez first disclosed his injury, he was averaging 9.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6% from the field and 41% from three-point distance over 39 total games.

From January 11th until the end of the regular season, 31 total games, Hernangomez’s averages fell to just 1.7 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting a freezing cold 30.3% from the field and an even worse 18.9% from three-point range.

As his shooting percentages and overall production fell off a cliff, Hernangomez’s role began to disappear. By the time the postseason arrived, Hernangomez was out of Malone’s rotation entirely and was instead watching his teammates thrive in their first two playoff series from the bench.

Depending on the severity of the core muscle injury, the rehabilitation time could be anywhere from six weeks to three months. For Hernangomez, his timeline to recovery is fuzzy. The Nuggets did not announce a projected amount of time that he would be out and, during his exit interview on Monday, the day after being eliminated in Game 7 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Hernangomez said that he plans to play for the Spanish national team while laying out his summer schedule.

“I am probably going to be (in Denver) for two to three weeks and then go back to Spain with my own trainer and own coach and be working hard like I have been doing all my life,” Hernangomez explained. “Probably like two months of really hard work and then we start with the national team. It is going to be another month of training camp and then play in the World Championships before getting back (to Denver) to play again.”

If that timeline holds true, it seems that Hernangomez will be recovering after successful surgery in Denver for now and then will begin ramping up his rehabilitation with his own trainer and coach back in Spain. Once fully healthy, he will begin to play for the Spanish national team which makes it easy to infer that Hernangomez will be ready to go when Denver’s training camp arrives in September.

For Hernangomez, who will be extension-eligible on July 1st, his coming season is going to be his most important. So far, he had a very promising rookie campaign before having back-to-back seasons derailed by random ailments. If Hernangomez wants to be able to recoup some of his value, having a stellar fourth season is the way to do so.

Hernangomez has been a professional since his teenage years. He understands the importance of this offseason and will attack it accordingly. If Hernangomez can get healthy and return for the 2019-20 season as the long-distance sniper that he has always been when healthy, the Nuggets will be even more dangerous than they already are.

Hernangomez played in 70 total games during the 2018-19 and averaged 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game while shooting 43.9% from the field and 36.5% from three-point distance.