The Thanksgiving holiday appears to have rejuvenated several NBA players as a number of big names are poised to return within the next week. Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut already has a head start, returning to action last Monday. The Bucks originally expected their center to be sidelined for two to four weeks, but Bogut defied the projections and was back in the lineup just 12 days after the injury occurred. The Australian center was beastly in his return scoring 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting, while adding 15 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocks against the Bulls.
The Mavericks center was medically cleared to return to action earlier this week and has started Dallas' last two games. Dampier suffered light-headedness and arm numbness along with an elevated heart rate and was taken to the hospital prior to a November game against the Pistons. He missed eight games as he underwent a myriad of medical tests but was cleared to return to basketball after the doctors did not discover any serious issues. He was rusty in his first game back but recorded a double-double in the next game, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds in a win over New Jersey. Drew Gooden returned to the bench and will split time with Dampier for the remainder of the season. If you own Dampier and have an available bench spot, you may want to consider handcuffing Gooden to Damp in case these mysterious symptoms resurface.
New Orleans welcomed All-Star point guard Chris Paul back to practice and if the ankle does not swell he could return as soon as Friday night when the Hornets take on the Timberwolves. The Hornets are being cautiously optimistic and will not risk further injury to their franchise player, who has missed the last eight games after severely spraining his left ankle. Remember an ankle sprain is harder for a point guard, especially one on the level of CP3, to overcome. Guards cover more space on the court than post players and need a sturdy and stable ankle, capable of withstanding sharp and explosive cuts. Obviously Paul is a must start when active but curb your early expectations as the point guard shakes off the rust. Rookie point guard Darren Collison played adequately in Paul's absence but will resume his backup role.
Detroit has been plagued by injuries for the first quarter of the season but the team is nearing full strength and could welcome back several key players soon. Charlie Villanueva will play against his former squad when the Pistons host the Bucks on Friday. Villanueva missed one game after undergoing surgery to repair the fractured nose he suffered on November 29 in a game against the Hawks. Villanueva will wear a mask to protect his nose and facial bones and has been getting tips from teammate Richard Hamilton, a guy who knows a little bit about wearing a mask, on what to expect. Villanueva's numbers may take a slight hit as he adjusts to playing with the protective shield.
Hamilton also is nearing a return to action from an ankle sprain suffered in the season opener. Hamilton's ankle was severe as he sprained four ligaments and also sprained several tendons surrounding the joint. Like Paul, Hamilton needs a strong and stable ankle to play his style of game effectively. Considered one of the best when moving without the ball, the former All-Star has returned to practice and is aggressively rehabbing the injured ankle. The Pistons do not expect him to play on Friday.
Forward Tayshaun Prince has also begun shooting and running through some light workouts but as yet to fully participate in practice. Prince is still being slowed by a small rupture of an intervertebral disc in the lumbar region of his lower back. The Pistons hope the conservative approach they have taken to treatment will allow Prince to return at some point this season and avoid having to undergo surgery. In the meantime, keep the forward on your fantasy bench.
The Bulls expect to be without their reserve point guard for the next week or two, as Hinrich sits with a sprained left thumb. A MRI revealed the guard's left thumb ligament was merely sprained and not completely torn, a diagnosis later confirmed by a hand specialist. The sprain has likely occurred to the ulnar collateral ligament of the metacarpal joint of the thumb. This joint is classified as a saddle joints because it allows for multiple movements including rotation and opposition. If motion at this joint becomes restricted, athletes often struggle to effectively grip the basketball ball and may struggle to adequately control the ball while dribbling. Hinrich is wearing a protective splint on the thumb which remains tender and swollen. However Hinrich and the Bulls were both relieved the ligament was not torn, considering the point guard missed 31 games last season following surgery to repair the same ligament in his right thumb. Jannero Pargo and veteran Lindsey Hunter will continue to see an increase in minutes.
After a left patellar strain forced the Milwaukee guard to miss nine games, Redd returned to action early last week. Unfortunately the return was brief, lasting just three games as the guard did not feel the knee was 100 percent. He told the Bucks athletic training staff he needs more time to rest and treat the knee and did not travel with the Bucks on their two-game road trip that began Wednesday in Washington and concludes Friday against Detroit. Redd stated the knee was not capable of explosive motions and that he will continue to work to increase the strength of the knee. Fantasy owners must show some patience with Redd who was clearly not himself in the three games he tried to play, averaging 7.6 points on 28.5 shooting from the field. Charlie Bell will continue to start in Redd's absence.