When last we saw the Black Mamba he was witnessing the end of the Phil Jackson era in Dallas after the Mavericks routed the Lakers in the final game of a four-game sweep. With new coach Mike Brown now at the helm, the big question is how is Bryant's arthritic right knee? Bryant's problems began in 2003 and the 13-time All-Star has since needed three surgeries, most recently a 2010 procedure to remove bone fragments within the joint, to help alleviate his pain. The root of the pain appears to be overuse and normal wear-and-tear placed on the joint during his career. Bryant is entering his 16h season in the NBA having played in 955 regular season games. He adds an additional two and half seasons onto his career if you account for his 208 playoffs game played. Let's not overlook his 2008 stint with the Redeem Team in the Beijing Olympics. These numbers illustrate just how much mileage Kobe has accumulated through the years and why he headed to Germany this offseason to explore a new treatment designed to revitalize the balky joint.
The focal point of the procedure is platelet-rich plasma therapy. In this treatment, a sample of the athlete's blood is drawn and placed into a machine known as a centrifuge. The machine spins the blood at such a high velocity that the various components of the blood begin to separate. A highly concentrated mixture of platelets, the primary clotting factor in blood, is removed and then injected back into the patient at the area of concern. The idea is that the infused platelets will create an environment at the injury site more conducive to healing thus making the recovery process faster and more efficient. The process is used commonly in baseball for pitchers suffering from elbow issues.
The hope is Bryant's knee will be better prepared for a compact 66-game season, enabling him to return to his elite status. The long-time Laker saw his numbers dip across the board despite not practicing for a majority of the season. He remains a top-10 option at the guard position but don't expect the 33-year old to carry a fantasy team like years past.
Curry has been a fantasy weapon since entering the league and is once again ranked as a top option at the guard position. His value would continue to improve if his problematic ankle is completely recovered from offseason surgery. Curry sprained his right ankle at least five times last year and underwent surgery designed to help with the instability. Curry most likely underwent a procedure using a technique known as imbrication in which the sprained ligaments and the capsule around the joint are tightened by folding and stitching the unstable tissue. Any existing scar tissue is also cleaned out, alleviating any discomfort and improving range of motion.
The success rate of this type of surgery is high and Curry should be ready to go once the season begins.
The index finger Nowitzki injured during last season's Finals is still healing after he aggravated it while playing for Germany over the summer. Nowitzki suffered what is referred to as mallet finger. Often when the tip of the finger is struck violently by a ball or jammed, the extensor tendon connected at the end of the digit ruptures or breaks away a small piece of bone. The injury prevents the athlete from being able to completely straighten their finger. However, there's no reason to believe the finger will affect Dirk, especially when you consider what he was able to do in the Finals following the injury. Continue to take Nowitzki and his efficient fantasy game in the early rounds of most drafts.
It appears the Blazers will unfortunately see the end of a promising career as Roy is set to retire due to medical issues. The former Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star will take a medical retirement after his achy knees will not allow him to continue at a high level. Roy has a long history of knee issues including multiple surgeries to remove loose bodies, repair torn a torn meniscus, and several other scopes to clean the area. Some reports hinted that the meniscus were so degenerated that his joints were essentially bone on bone. Despite flashes of old, including the dramatic fourth quarter against Dallas in last season's playoffs, Roy has lacked the explosiveness that made him such a threat. Wesley Matthews will assume the starting shooting guard position and should see his fantasy value slightly increase.
Michael Beasley: There's a bit of mystery surrounding Beasley and his injured wrist. The Timberwolves forward suffered a wrist injury while playing in China and initial reports suggested the wrist was broken. However those reports appear false, as Beasley did not fracture any bone. The details of the aggravated injury remain vague but don't sound like anything that will keep Beasley out to start the year.
Roddy Beaubois: The third-year guard from France is still not at 100 percent after requiring a second surgery in the offseason on his injured left foot. While Beaubois showed flashes during his rookie season, he appeared in just 28 games during his sophomore campaign. The fact that the foot is still an issue makes him a risky pick moving forward.
Toney Douglas: Douglas has been slow to recover from May surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder but should be good to go for the start of the season. He's added muscle to his frame, including additional mass around the shoulders. This should provide extra stability to the joint and protect the area from future injury.
Joakim Noah: The Chicago center missed 34 games last season after tearing a ligament in his thumb and severely spraining his ankle in late March. However he is reporting to camp healthy and is capable of averaging a double-double.
JJ Redick: After undergoing surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle, Redick is set to enter the season healthy and ready to go. Redick needed surgery in late May to repair two tears in his lower abdomen.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.