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NBA Injury Analysis: Ailing Players Around the League

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.


Eric Gordon

After headlining a trade that involved Chris Paul landing with the Clippers, Gordon has given his new team, the Hornets, just one game after suffering a knee contusion in the season opener. While some may scoff at a contusion and regard it as a simple bruise, understand that there is much more going on when a bone becomes contused.

A layer known as the periosteum surrounds most of the bones of the body. Primarily designed to fortify each bone, periosteum also aids in supplying blood to the bone.

When an impact occurs that results in a bruise, a few of the periosteum fibers are damaged. The area often becomes swollen and very painful as the layer is also littered with pain receptors. The body is well equipped to deal with the injury, but the necessary healing process requires time. The healing response is the same as it would be for a fractured bone and must successfully make new bony tissue.

The location of Gordon's injury complicates the situation. The kneecap is a sesmoid bone, meaning it is located within the tendon of the quadriceps muscle. Its location increases the mechanical advantage of the muscle, improving the distance from the muscle to the axis of the knee. Unfortunately as the patella moves, it comes in contact with other bone and tissue at assorted locations within the knee. When bruised, this motion often elicits pain and limits the knee's range of motion while delaying healing.

The Hornets are playing the situation wisely and cautiously. Instead of allowing Gordon to play through the injury and let it develop into a chronic, nagging problem, they are sitting him now and allowing the injury to properly heal. He remains day-to-day but is likely to miss his second game on Friday. There's a chance he could miss a couple more games, and fantasy owners might want to consider looking elsewhere in weekly leagues. Marco Belinelli will continue to start at shooting guard in Gordon's absence.

Paul Pierce

Boston is facing a similar situation with their veteran forward except Pierce's heel is the injured bone. Like Gordon's injury, the bone is contused and vulnerable to aggravation if not permitted to heal properly. The heel is a bone known as the calcaneus that serves as the attachment site for the Achilles' tendon. Generally protected by a fat pad located in the bottom of the foot, the heel can be bruised by repetitive stress. Fractures can easily develop if the injury goes untreated.

Pierce has dealt with a knee contusion before and understands the importance of time. However with the Celtics out to a 0-3 start he could be pressed into playing ahead of schedule, maybe even as early as Friday. Expect Pierce's conditioning to be behind upon his return and give him a couple games to knock off the rust.

Iman Shumpert

The rookie out of Georgia Tech will miss the next two-to-four weeks after spraining the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. The injury occurred in the Knicks season opener against the Celtics, and a subsequent MRI confirmed the diagnosis. The MCL plays a key role in maintaining knee stability during lateral or side-to-side movement, making cutting for a guard difficult. The sprain appears to be a low-grade sprain but if it ends up costing Shumpert a month's time, his fantasy value in a shortened season takes a big hit. With veteran Baron Davis still rehabbing a bulging disc in his back, look for Toney Douglas to see a big upswing in minutes.

Jameer Nelson

A lopsided score and a neck injury limited Nelson to 16 minutes of floor time Thursday. The point guard suffered a stinger in the win over the Nets that eventually led to spasms in his neck muscles. Normally a football injury, a stinger occurs when the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves in the shoulder and neck, becomes overstretched or compressed. The injury can cause pain and numbness that can extend from the shoulder to the hand as well as spasms in the associated musculature. The Orlando athletic training staff will attempt to calm the spasms and relieve the associated tension before focusing on the stinger itself. The injury can easily be aggravated and, though the Magic are considering Nelson day-to-day, don't be surprised to see him sit a game or two. Chris Duhon would likely fill in if Nelson is inactive.

Fast Breaks

Jose Barea: The diminutive point guard is questionable for Minnesota's game Friday against the Heat after straining his hamstring. Given that Barea utilized his speed to torch Miami in last year's Finals, expect an injury of this nature to be severely limiting.

Mike Conley: Conley exited early in Memphis' loss to Oklahoma City after aggravating an ankle injury. Conely had initially sprained his left ankle during the preseason and is now set to miss the next few games. Jeremy Pargo looked good in his place, scoring 15 points to go along with seven assists.

Stephen Curry: Curry's surgically repaired ankle is still causing him problems and forced him to sit out Wednesday's game against the Knicks. There's a chance he could return over the weekend but it looks like it will be a game-time decision.

Jrue Holliday: Holliday is day-to-day with a knee injury after hitting the floor in a win over the Suns. If he can't play, Lou Williams and Evan Turner will take over.

Shawn Marion: The Matrix is currently playing through a fracture at the base of his pinkie. While he hasn't missed a game, he has scored just 10 points in the two games since suffering the injury while shooting a combined 5-of-16 from the field.

Paul Millsap: A case of quadriceps tendinitis isn't keeping Millsap out of games but is limiting his minutes. He's currently coming off the bench for the Jazz but should slowly return to heavier minutes as the condition improves.

Amar'e Stoudemire: STAT is dealing with a sprained left ankle that could sideline him against the Kings on New Year's Eve. Consider him day-to-day.