A quarter of the way through the 2010-2011 season and it seems like the usual names continue to pop up on injury reports around the league. Greg Oden is already done for the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee while Rockets center Yao Ming and Lakers big man Andrew Bynum are both dinged up.In New Jersey point guard Devin Harris continues to miss time with a variety of ailments and a pair of West coast sophomores hobble along.
In Houston, Ming has been limited to five games this year due to a left ankle injury. While he seemed to be nearing a return, his comeback has been pushed back yet another week. Ming is no longer experiencing pain in the sprained joint but the ankle has weakened with all the time off. The Rockets athletic training staff want to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint before allowing him back onto the court and will likely focus on the peroneals and the Tibialis muscles. The peroneus longus, peroneus brevis, and Tibialis posterior work together to plantar flex the ankle while the peroneus tertius and Tibialis anterior do the opposite and dorsiflex the foot. They all work together to stabilize the leg and ankle and help an athlete maintain their balance. Based on Ming's previous injuries, particularly on the effected left leg, it is key that he has a solid base and his ankle is ready to withstand the rigors of running, jumping, and other basketball related activities. Yao will return with the same 24-minute cap decided upon earlier in the season. With the minutes restriction and a propensity for injuries, Ming is no longer a reliable fantasy option.
Bynum has returned to practice for the Lakers and is eyeballing a December 14 return that should pay dividends for more than just Bynum owners. The former lottery pick underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late July to repair a torn meniscus and a partially torn ligament. Much to the chagrin of Lakers management and his current fantasy owners, Bynum delayed the surgery to attend the World Cup in South Africa and travel around parts of Europe. His injury has had a trickle-down effect on the Lakers and serves as a perfect example of how one player's injury can negatively affect his teammates. With the center sidelined, Pau Gasol has been called upon to shoulder big minutes. Gasol owners have reaped the benefits as the Spaniard is producing at an elite fantasy level.
However the increased minutes have begun to take a toll on Gasol as evidenced by his recent hamstring strain. Lamar Odom has also been a top fantasy option but is now nursing a bruised foot that he attributes to his elevated minutes. Bynum's production will be limited at first but should improve as he gets back into playing shape. Gasol will be able to shift over to his more natural power forward position with Odom returning to the bench. Look for Odom and Gasol to take a slight hit but become more efficient. Bynum owners should expect more of the same from the youngster, several blocks a night with solid production in points, field goal percentage, and rebounds.
Harris missed the majority of New Jersey's game against his former team, the Mavericks, after spraining his left shoulder. Harris was injured when he fell to the ground after breaking up an alley-oop pass to Dallas' Tyson Chandler. Sadly, Harris was just beginning to look like himself after missing two games with a knee strain. The left shoulder has been a continual issue for the speedy point guard who missed two games last season with a similar injury and aggravated the ailment earlier this year after a collision with Charlotte's Stephen Jackson. Fortunately X-rays on the shoulder were negative and Harris is optimistic he will be available Sunday when the Lakers visit New Jersey. Harris owners should keep in mind that injuries like this come with the territory, based on his up-tempo style of play. Jordan Farmar would assume the starting point guard position if Harris is unable to go.
Last year's Rookie of the Year could miss an extended period of time with a foot injury. Already fighting through a case of plantar fasciitis, Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans underwent a precautionary MRI Thursday on his left foot. The results of the MRI are pending but the Kings fear he may have a stress fracture. Keep an eye out for those results and hope for the best. Francisco Garcia would benefit the most from Evans' injury.
Stephen Curry, the player Evans beat out for ROY, is also experiencing aches and pain in his sophomore campaign. Curry continues to battle a bothersome ankle sprain that he initially sprained in preseason. He has since aggravated the injury at least three times, most recently on Wednesday in a loss to San Antonio. Playing at less than 100 percent may be admirable to some but it doesn't allow the initial injury to heal. The sprained ligaments remain lax and the joint remains susceptible to reinjury. Ankle tape jobs and protective braces are designed to support the effected joint but Curry found his brace too restrictive. Now he will trade the brace for a protective boot and is expected to sit out until the injury completely heals. Expect Curry to be sidelined for the immediate future. The Warriors signed Acie Law to help ease the loss and Reggie Williams is the top candidate to join the starting lineup. Monta Ellis will see a slight uptick in value with Curry out.
Chris Kaman's return to action lasted 26 minutes after he too aggravated his ankle injury. After missing 11 games with a sprained ankle, he rolled it again and is expected to miss another significant stretch of action. A subsequent MRI revealed a new problem as well. While he avoided any serious ligament damage, Kaman has a bone bruise. Bone contusions occur when the periosteal tissue is damaged and are often accompanied with tiny breaks in the fibers of the bony cortex. These breaks must be repaired like a fracture would be and rely on the formation of new bone tissue. Bone bruises generally last longer than a normal contusion and can cause a considerably greater amount of pain. Kaman was averaging his lowest numbers since 2006 and unless you can afford to stash him, it may be time to look elsewhere. DeAndre Jordan has failed to impress in Kaman's absence but could be worth a look in deeper leagues for owners desperate for boards and blocks.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.