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NBA Injury Analysis: Concussions in the NBA

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

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


Concussions are the hot topic in sports medicine. Numerous studies and vast amounts of data have been performed and collected and how we treat athletes that have sustained the injury has improved considerably in the past few years, most notably in the NFL. Working with team physicians, neurologists, and other experts, the NFL crafted a stricter but safer concussion policy. It appears the NBA may be at long last following suit as the league has begun consulting with a private neurologist and could have a league-wide policy in place by next season.

While fantasy owners may scoff at the notion and fear it will cost them games played, understand that concussions remain a serious injury and must be handled properly. Several big names including Vince Carter and Chris Paul, as well as Milwaukee teammates Carlos Delfino and Corey Maggette and Chicago's Taj Gibson have missed time after suffering a concussion. If a league-mandated policy is put into play it could actually help fantasy owners and provide a better timeline on how many days or games a head injury will sideline an individual.

Paul has been a spectator for New Orleans' last two games after suffering a concussion in a collision with Cleveland's Ramon Sessions. Paul was taken off the court on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. The All-Star point guard will consult with a neurologist on Friday to undergo further testing. He did participate in a light workout Thursday but is availability for Friday remains unknown. One of the primary issues with concussion symptoms is that they can dissipate in day-to-day life but will return when the individual begins exertional exercise. Expect the Hornets to give Paul all the time he needs to return, especially while backup Jarrett Jack continues to play well. Jack is averaging 22 points and five assists since replacing Paul in the starting lineup and has scored in double figures in 13 of his last 14 games played. Jack is worth a consideration for fantasy owners needing a boost down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye will not need surgery on his dislocated right shoulder and hopes to be ready to return to the court in two-to-three weeks. The injury is similar to the one sustained by Memphis star Rudy Gay. Gay has not played since February 15 and will undergo a MRI on Monday to re-evalute the injury. If all is progressing accordingly Gay could return to the court for non-contact drills and other work.

A shoulder subluxation or partial dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) temporarily slips out of its normal alignment within the shoulder joint, specifically the glenohumeral joint. The ligaments of the shoulder are overstretched and sprained but the joint is not completely compromised. In a true dislocation, the ligaments surrounding the joint are damaged and generally a medical professional is needed to return the joint to its original alignment. If not properly reduced, damage to the labrum, muscles, or ligaments can occur. Once the joint has been dislocated it becomes more prone to recurrent dislocation. This appears to have been the case for Frye who has a history of shoulder injuries, having previously subluxed the same shoulder.

Both Frye and Gay have been valuable fantasy players this season but their current injuries make them giant question marks going forward. The shoulder must be splinted to properly heal and complete range of motion must return before it can be properly used. Any lingering strength or range deficits would alter a player's shooting mechanics and their production. Both are worth stashing if you have been lucky enough to secure a bye but teams needing games should look elsewhere. Frye and Gay will likely need several games to shake off any rust and when that is combined with the increased probability of reinjury, it isn't worth risking a league title on either guy.

Not even a bruised knee could slow the double-double machine known as Kevin Love. Love originally injured the knee in a loss to Dallas but played the entire game without restriction. However the joint swelled overnight sending Love to the MRI machine. The MRI revealed inflammation but no structural damage and Love plodded through Minnesota's next game against the Pacers wearing a bulky brace. Despite the soreness, he managed to collect his record setting 52nd straight double-double. The first-time All-Star sat out practice Thursday to rest the leg and prepare himself for his attempt at number 53 Friday against the Jazz. Fantasy owners enjoying Love's amazing run shouldn't worry at the moment but there remains a slim chance Minnesota elects to shut down their star for his own protection. Excessive and chronic inflammation can do significant damage to the knee, particularly the cartilage on the articulating surfaces of the joint. If the swelling lingers or Love's streak ends so too could his season.

Carlos Boozer will miss Chicago's slate of weekend games with a sprained left ankle and could miss up to a week. X-rays on the joint were negative but expect the Bulls to give Boozer extended rest with the playoffs on the horizon. A sprain of the same ankle kept him out of three games in January. Look for Taj Gibson to replace Booze in the starting lineup. Gibson has averaged 10.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game in 18 starts this season and is worth a pickup in all formats.

After missing 18 games with a sprain and fractured right wrist Eric Gordon was back in the Clippers lineup late last week. However his return to fantasy relevance was short-lived as the guard aggravated the injury in just his second game back. X-rays were negative but the team has shut him down for the next 7-to-10 days. He will then have the wrist revaluated and hopefully be given a more definitive timeline. However we know Gordon will miss at least five games with a good chance of missing more. Wrist injuries are easily aggravated especially in a sport like basketball where players are often forced to catch themselves from hitting the court with an outstretched hand. This motion, known as FOOSH (fallen on outstretched hand) in medical terms, is a common mechanism of hand and elbow injuries and often cannot be avoided. It would not be surprising to see Gordon shut down at some point but those in keepers leagues or those able to withstand the loss should hold off dropping him just yet.

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