The injury bug is a nasty pest for any NBA team and sometimes when it bites it bites hard. This year several teams including Cleveland, Portland, Washington, and Charlotte have felt the sting of injuries that have shaped the fantasy landscape.
The Cavaliers started the season behind the eight ball after LeBron James packed his bags for Miami but injuries to key contributors have set the franchise even further back. Anderson Varejao is out for the remainder of the season after tearing a tendon in his ankle, Antawn Jamison has missed time with a balky knee, and Daniel Gibson has been recently sidelined with a sprained ankle. Now Maurice Williams will miss an extended period of time after receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing left hip. Williams is battling a strained left hip flexor. The hip flexor is actually a group of muscles that work in unison. The muscle primarily responsible for hip flexion is the iliopsoas and it originates from a smooth surface on the hip. Hip flexor strains are common in sports like basketball that require sudden acceleration and deceleration. When the muscle is strained the body's natural defenses kick in and send various chemicals and interstial fluid to the area resulting in inflammation and swelling. When the injury site is constantly irritated or stressed, the injury will result in chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can ultimately do more harm than good and must be controlled. Medical professionals will often turn to cortisone to help.
Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory drug designed to reduce the inflammation. While cortisone is not a pain-reliever, an athlete will often experience pain-relief following an injection as the reduction of inflammation alleviates the associated symptoms. Williams will continue to receive treatment and begin rehabilitative exercises and hopes to return in two weeks. In the meantime Gibson, Ramon Sessions, and rookie Manny Harris will see their fantasy value increase.
In Portland the athletic training staff has its hands full with knee injuries. Greg Oden is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing microfracture surgery and guard Brandon Roy recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on both of his troublesome knees. Now center Marcus Camby is spending time in the athletic training room after undergoing an operation himself for a lateral meniscus injury. Following the surgery, the Blazers have expressed confidence that Camby will miss three weeks of time. If this timeline is accurate it means the damage to the cartilage meniscus likely occurred on the periphery of the disc.
Menisci are divided into zones based on the amount of blood flow that is supplied to the area. The inner portion of each meniscus is avascular, meaning blood does not flow to the area. This area is known as the white-white zone and is unable to heal on its own due to the lack of available blood. However the red-red zone, located on the outer edges of the menisci, is well supplied with blood and can heal much quicker. The small recovery window for Camby is promising and should allow Portland to get their veteran back before the trade deadline. However Camby has been a notoriously slow healer and three weeks seems like an awfully optimistic outlook. Unless you can stash the veteran, consider shopping Camby to a fantasy owner who can. For now Joel Przybilla has assumed the starting center position and while his rebounding numbers have been impressive (9.0 boards a game since Camby was injured), his offensive production has been less than stellar.
The Wizards are also handling a rash of injuries. Rookie phenom John Wall has been in-and-out of the lineup with knee and foot injuries and now knees injuries are slowing two of their prominent swing men, as Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis are both battling sore knees. Howard underwent offseason surgery on his left knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and has been limited to six games this season after having several setbacks in the recovery process. Like Mo Williams, chronic inflammation is at the root of the problem and has caused a tendon in the knee to become inflamed. Howard has received a cortisone injection for this case of tendinitis and will be sidelined for the next several weeks.
Lewis is also dealing with a sore right knee. Lewis has stated the knee has been an issue since being acquired via trade but is becoming harder to deal with as his minutes have significantly increased. He is playing nearly four more minutes a game in Washington and the increased workload is making it harder for him to get some much-needed rest. Continue to play Lewis but expect him to receive the occasional night off, particularly on the second night of a back-to-back. Al Thornton has seen a bump in minutes but has failed to impress, averaging just 7.8 points per game in 20.0 minutes of action over Washington's last five outings.
Charlotte had been relatively lucky with injuries with major players like Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace only missing a handful of games with an assortment of ailments. However their frontcourt has suddenly become much smaller after DeSagana Diop was lost of the year with a torn Achilles and Tyrus Thomas now expected to be out two months with a torn meniscus. A recent MRI revealed the damage to the lateral meniscus and he is expected to undergo surgery in the coming days. Unlike Camby, Thomas' tear is significant and makes him drop-able in all formats. It is an unfortunate blow for fantasy owners who will have to look outside of Charlotte to replace the 11.1 points and 1.6 blocks that Thomas was providing.
In the weekly survey of ankle injuries around the league, Chicago's Carlos Boozer and Miami's Chris Bosh remained limited with sprained ankles. Boozer has missed three consecutive games since turning his left ankle but is expected back Saturday when the Bulls face the injury-depleted Cavs. In South Beach, Bosh continues to make progress from his sprained left ankle but still has yet to return to running. He remains unlikely to suit up against his former team the Raptors on Saturday but should benefit from a break in the schedule. Miami will not play again until next Thursday (January 27), giving Bosh some extra time to rest the ankle.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.