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NBA Injury Analysis: NBA Injury Update

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

A fantasy owner's life is made difficult by injuries. However the difficult decision on whether or not to cut a player can be made infinitely harder if you carry in a preconceived notion of what a particular medical term means.

For example two NBA players, Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey, are struggling with injuries that appear minor on the surface but can be difficult to manage. Both players have suffered bruises to various body parts. Bogut has missed back-to-back games with a bruised knee while Stuckey has been inactive for three straight with a bruised shoulder. Unfortunately the term bruise is misleading. Most people assume a bruise is what happens when you bump your elbow or bang your knee into a desk. While these minor skin hematomas are more common, a bruise within the muscle or to the bone is much more significant.

Stuckey's injury is most likely an intramuscular bruise to the assortment of muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Intramuscular bruising occurs when the muscle tissue beneath the skin is impacted and the blood vessels of the muscles are damaged. This type of bruise is much more painful and can be extremely sensitive to contact.

Bogut's injury is another form of bruising called periosteal bruising, more commonly known as a bone bruise. All bones have a thin layer of compact bone tissue that in most bones is reinforced by a membrane known as the periosteum. The makeup of the tissue in these layers is dense and provides strength to the bone. The layers are broken when a fracture takes place but when just a few fibers are damaged a bone bruise or contusion occurs. Bone bruises commonly occur in areas that are poorly protected like the tip of the shoulder or the kneecap. These contusions tend to last longer than a normal soft tissue bruise and often are accompanied by swelling and pain when moving the effected joint. Furthermore the body treats these injuries like it would a complete fracture and it needs time to create new bony tissue.

Stuckey and Bogut both need rest to help facilitate the healing problem and will not be cleared to play until the athletic training staffs of their respective teams feel that will not make the injury worse by playing. Coincidentally Bogut is targeting a Saturday return against Stuckey's Pistons. However it is doubtful Stuckey joins him on the court. Ben Gordon will continue to start in Stuckey's place and is worth a look in all formats after averaging 25.3 points in those three starts.

Bogut's absence was exacerbated by the news that teammate Drew Gooden will miss the next four-to-six weeks as he rests his injured left foot. A severe case of plantar fasciitis has limited Gooden to just 25 games this season and continues to be such a problem that extended rest appears to be the only reasonable solution. Even fantasy owners in the deepest leagues shouldn't waste a valuable roster spot on Gooden. However you won't have to look far for a replacement as forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Corey Maggette have picked up the slack and are still widely available in most leagues.

It was a rough week for the New Orleans Hornets. Center Emeka Okafor saw his streak of 306 consecutive games snapped after a MRI revealed a strained left oblique. The injury was initially ruled a hip strain.

The oblique muscles are core muscles split into two groups, the internal and external obliques. Like their name suggests, the internal obliques lie below the externals and attach to the inferior ribs of the ribcage. The two groups play a role in moving the ribcage during breathing and work together to help flex and rotate the trunk of the body. Trunk rotation involves the internal and external obliques working synergistically with the converse group on the opposite side of the body. For example, if Okafor wanted to rotate his body to the left, his left internal oblique muscles must contract in conjunction with his right external oblique muscles.

Oblique injuries are generally seen in baseball pitchers and golfers as they violently torque their torsos while competing a pitch or drive. However Okafor's injury occurred as he made a quick spin move baseline, wrenching his body in the opposite way of his momentum. These injuries tend to linger and are quite painful. The Hornets have set a timeline of one-to-three weeks for their center but based on the injury it is reasonable to assume it will be closer to three weeks than one.

However Okafor could be forced into rush back if swingman Trevor Ariza's sprained ankle is as serious as some have speculated. Ariza suffered a right ankle sprain after stepping on the foot of Thunder forward Jeff Green. The most common ankle sprain is the lateral ankle sprain and involves the ligaments located on the outside of the ankle. However Ariza's sprain occurred on the medial side. A medial ankle sprain injury is less common because the configuration of the ankle mortise make it more difficult to turn the ankle outward. Furthermore the primary ligament on the medial aspect of the foot is the resilient deltoid ligament that is actually a ligament comprised of multiple ligaments conjoined to form a triangle. The deltoid ligament is extremely durable, so much so that the bone will often break before the ligament gives way.

Ariza left the arena in a protective boot and on crutches and is expected to miss at least two weeks. Keep in mind a medial ankle sprain and bone bruise is what has kept Clippers center Chris Kaman out since early December. To help offset the loss, the Hornets are set to sign Sasha Pavlovic, who most recently played 10 games with the Mavericks before being waived. Pavlovic did little to earn fantasy attention during his time in Dallas despite starting six games. Instead look for Quincy Pondexter and Marcus Thornton to divvy up the majority of Ariza's minutes. Keep a close eye on Thornton particularly to see if he can regain some of the swagger he displayed during his rookie campaign when he averaged 14.5 points and 1.6 made three's a game.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.

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