The NBA lockout is at long last over and players have begun returning to team facilities. For players still recovering from offseason surgery this is a huge step in the right direction, as they will now be permitted to talk with team medical staffs for the first time in almost six months. Hopefully these individuals have been responsible and rehabbed with independent professionals to insure their bodies are ready for what will be a shortened, but grueling 66-game regular season.
It's hard to imagine the Grizzlies upset the top-ranked Spurs and took the Thunder to seven games without Gay in the lineup. Gay suffered a left shoulder dislocation in mid-February that ultimately required surgery. Famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in which the shoulder capsule was repaired using surgical anchors.
The shoulder capsule is a structure that includes connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons designed to reinforce the glenohumeral joint, the primary joint of the shoulder. It connects with the labrum and has multiple attachment points on the shaft of the humerus. If torn, the entire integrity of the joint is compromised. Fortunately the surgery went well and the work done by Dr. Andrews can be forfeited by strengthening the muscles that surround the shoulder.
Gay spent his offseason vigorously rehabbing with that information in mind and has reportedly improved the strength of his shoulder and his scapula stabilizer. His hard work paid off and Gay's agent was fielding offers from overseas teams before the lockout was lifted. While guys like Dwyane Wade and Jameer Nelson have bounced back from shoulder surgeries, Gay's surgery is considered a tad more significant. Give him a few weeks to shake some of the expected rust off but don't let him slip too far in drafts. He's a top-10 option at small forward, capable of helping in multiple categories.
The Nets point guard missed the final five games of the 2010-2011 season after undergoing surgery in his right wrist. Three bone chips and excessive scar tissue limiting his wrist flexion (bending the wrist) were removed from the joint. For a basketball player, limited wrist movement can be severely limiting, effecting dribbling, passing, and most notably shooting. Williams admitted the wrist was less than 100 percent in August but his recent run with Besiktas in the Turkish basketball league has suggested it's feeling much better now. In 15 games with the club, Williams averaged 21.8 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds.
Despite the media circus that will surround him this season, it appears Williams is healthy. His time overseas allowed him to work out any timing or comfort issues; making it more likely he'll be ready to go when the season begins.
West suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during an overtime win over the Jazz last March and underwent surgery several weeks later. After spending the prolonged offseason rehabbing, West was cleared to return to basketball-related activities in late October. The former All-Star elected to enter free agency and remains unsigned. Fantasy owners and general managers will both have to be cautious with West moving forward. While he has been cleared to return to play, he will be just eight months removed from surgery when the season tips off. Most studies regarding ACL grafts suggest the graft isn't truly 100 percent for about a year as the new ligament begins to adopt the biological properties of the old ligament. Factor in West's age (he's 31) and it's safe to say he remains a risky prospect. Obviously his final landing spot will determine his true fantasy value but don't overlook the injury and the problems that could still remain. Notable players like Michael Redd, Josh Howard, and Al Jefferson all struggled in their first season back from ACL surgery.
The knock on Bynum has always been health. Knee problems have plagued him throughout his six-year career in the NBA, including last year when he missed the first two months of the season rehabbing from surgery to repair a meniscus injury. However for the first time in those six years, he entered the offseason healthy and not in the need of an operation. He was able to focus on his body, particularly his knees, and has reportedly dropped a significant amount of weight and trimmed down his body fat. The drop in weight and a new focus on the musculature surrounding his knees should take some undue stress of his joints and could allow the seven-footer to finally live up to his potential. The 24-year old has career averages of 10.5 points per game and 7.1 rebounds and a healthy Bynum would be a welcome addition to fantasy teams in need of a productive center.
Andrew Bogut: Bogut is said to be at "85 percent" and plans on being ready come opening night. The Bucks center needed surgery in April to remove scar tissue and bone fragments lingering from his 2010 surgery to repair a severely dislocated elbow.
Caron Butler: Tuff Juice narrowly missed a return to action during the Mavericks championship run and feels his surgically repaired knee is feeling good. The free agent swingman suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in January and is looking to make a comeback.
Mike Miller: In a surprise announcement Miller revealed he underwent hernia surgery earlier this week and will likely be sidelined eight weeks.
Greg Oden: Two years and two major knee surgeries later Oden is still not ready to play. He hasn't been cleared to begin basketball-related activities and is expected to be out until January.
Rajon Rondo: There is no indication that the Celtics have concerns about Rondo's elbow after he dislocated it during last year's playoffs. However fantasy owners should be worried about his durability. His assist numbers dipped as the season progressed indicating he wore down. Boston has to find a suitable backup to spell Rondo if he's to maximize his talents.
Anderson Varejao: The energetic center has fully recovered from surgery needed to repair a torn peroneal tendon in his right ankle.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.