We've reached the time of year when fantasy owners fear five specific words: shut down for the season. Teams no longer fighting for playoff position begin to focus on the lottery and protect their young players by shutting them down for the remainder of the year. While it can be frustrating to lose a player that carried you to the playoffs sometimes a hidden gem can be unearthed and provide a sudden burst when given minutes.
The shutdown watch is in full effect in Washington as multiple players are nursing lingering injuries. Nick Young is dealing with a sore knee that has slowed his production. After averaging over 20 points for the months of January and February, his numbers have dipped in March. In five games since the calendar changed, he has averaged 17.6 points a game on 38 percent shooting, including 29 percent from long-range. Clearly the knee is slowing his production and has forced him to sit the team's most recent game against the Bulls. The team has not disclosed what is causing the soreness but have stated he is aggressively working with the athletic trainers and hopes to play Friday against the Raptors.
The Wizards will need Young's scoring with Rashard Lewis likely done for the year. Lewis has visited three specialists regarding his troublesome knee injury and continues to weigh his options. Lewis is dealing with a quadriceps tendon issue in his right knee. He considered getting the knee scoped but has been advised against it. Instead he is now contemplating a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) infusion designed to accelerate the body's natural healing process. In the procedure a small sample of the athlete's blood is placed into a machine known as a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood at a high velocity forcing various particles within the blood to separate. A protein-concentrated mixture is then extracted from the sample and injected into the injury site. The PRP mixture is packed with the main component of blood responsible for clotting, platelets. By introducing high concentrations of platelets at the injury site the healing process becomes faster and more efficient. Several players including Brandon Roy, Kenyon Martin, and Joakim Noah have utilized PRP infusions to help with a variety of ailments. However even if the PRP injections work, Lewis is not expected to return this year.
The absence of Lewis and Young has allowed rookie Jordan Crawford to gain extra minutes and has suddenly made him fantasy-relevant. Over the past five games he is averaging 16.8 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals. He started in the loss to the Bulls and scored a team-high 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Owners in need of a spark should consider adding the rookie.
There must be something in the water in Philadelphia as it was recently revealed Andre Iguodala is suffering from chondromalacia, the same condition hampering Phillies second basemen Chase Utley. Chondromalacia is an indicator of cartilage damage in the knee, usually on the underside of the kneecap. The smooth cartilage here is an important component of knee movement, allowing for the kneecap to efficiently move while protecting the surface of the knee joint. If the cartilage is eroded the bone becomes uncovered and is easily irritated or damaged. Any damage results in pain and inflammation in the effected individual. Unlike Utley, there has been no indication of bone inflammation for Iggy and he was able to play Wednesday against the Clippers. He struggled with his shot, connecting on 4-of-13 attempts, and finished with nine points, eight assists, and a steal. With the Sixers trying to move up in the Eastern Conference standings it seems like Iguodala will try to push through the pain. However once Philadelphia locks into a playoff spot expect coach Doug Collins to give his star extended rest in preparation for the postseason.
Utah's Paul Millsap returned to practice Thursday but is unsure he will be ready to play Sunday in a pivotal game against the Rockets. Millsap has missed Utah's last four games dealing with patellar tendinitis in his left knee. At this point in the season tendinitis is not uncommon especially at the knee. The athletic training staff will utilize a number of treatment options including modalities, like ultrasound and electrical stimulation, as well as corrective and strengthening exercises. If Millsap can return he is worth adding for next week, particularly in weekly leagues. The Jazz has four games scheduled between March 21 and March 27, including a matchup against the Thunder. Millsap has feasted on Oklahoma City this season, averaging 28.0 points and 10.7 rebounds a game in their three previous meetings.
Rudy Gay received some discouraging news earlier in the week when a MRI on the Memphis forward 's partially dislocated left shoulder revealed it was not fully healed. Gay will continue to rehab the injury focusing first on regaining complete range of motion and then on strength. The glenohumeral joint is built for mobility and not stability. By improving the strength of the muscles surrounding the area, Gay can help reinforce the joint. Fantasy owners with wiggle room or a bye in the first round of the playoffs can risk waiting on Gay but team's desperate for statistics need to drop him and move on.
Phoenix point guard Steve Nash returned to action Wednesday after missing two games with a pubic symphysis injury. The pubic symphysis is a joint formed by the union of the two pubic bones of the pelvis by a fibrocartilage disc. The movement at this junction is usually minimal but does occur in conjunction with sacroiliac movement in the back. Repetitive stress on the pubic symphysis can create inflammation that causes groin pain particularly while running. Nash has worked closely with the Suns head athletic trainer and his personal physiotherapist and will continue to manage the injury as well as possible. Teammate Grant Hill has experienced the injury firsthand and, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, has warned Nash of the dangers of playing through the pain. Nash has always been cognizant of his body and has done a good job of handling several biomechanical issues including a spondylolisthesis in his lower back. Have faith in the veteran point guard but don't hesitate to look elsewhere should the condition worsen.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.