What former MVP's imminent return from injury tells us about Towns' recovery timeline

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers
Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Disaster struck at the most inopportune time for the Minnesota Timberwolves. On March 7, amid the race for the top seed in the NBA Playoffs, it was reported that All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns had suffered a meniscus injury.

A mere five days later, the Wolves reported Towns had successful surgery on a lateral tear in his left meniscus. A reevaluation of Towns' injury is set to occur on April 9, only four weeks after the surgery.

While the recovery timeline appears to be shorter than a usual surgery, that's because it is. The average recovery time for a meniscus tear is four to eight weeks—giving Towns the ability to return just in time for the playoffs.

Coincidentally, another star center is embarking on a return from a meniscus injury. Joel Embiid, the reigning MVP, is set to return tonight as the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Embiid was diagnosed with a meniscus tear on January 30. Then, on February 6, the Sixers reported their star center's surgery was a success and he would be reevaluated in four weeks. Four weeks from Embiid's surgery occurred on March 5. Around that time, Sixers head coach Nick Nurse kept the recovery timeline vague.

Upon reevaluation, Nurse said, "[doctors] are happy with the progress" Embiid is making during his recovery. When asked if Embiid would be back before the postseason, Nurse lamented, "I'm still hoping so and pretty confident, yes."

Fast forward to the present day and it appears as if Embiid will be back before the postseason. But what does that mean for Towns? Both big men injured the same left knee, and possess similar physical profiles.

As of today, it's been eight weeks since Embiid went under the knife. Using a similar timeline for Towns, the All-Star should return by the week of May 6. By that time, the Conference Semifinals will have begun.

The first round begins on April 20, and the semifinals will begin anywhere from May 4 to May 7. Returning for the first round will put Towns' recovery about two weeks ahead of Embiid's. While improbable, it's possible.

However, more reasonable projections would presume Towns' return date to be early May. Perhaps Towns pushes himself if the Wolves are struggling in their first-round series. However, in the best-case scenario, Towns returns when his knee feels back to normal while the rest of the Wolves are awaiting for their second-round matchup to begin.