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NBA Injury Analysis: Preseason Notes

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.

Kevin Love

With Ricky Rubio already slated to miss at least the first month of the season, the injury to Love's right hand is a significant setback for a team hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. Love suffered fractures to his third and fourth metacarpal bones while performing knuckle pushups. Fractures of the fourth metacarpal are often referred to as a Boxer's fracture as they normally occur following a closed fist striking a hard object. Knuckle pushups, like the ones Love was performing, generate similar forces, loading an axial force through the bones of the hand. The force of the pushup caused the bones to break, likely at the neck of the metacarpal were it is most fragile. Fortunately for Love and the Timberwolves, the bones did not displace, meaning surgery will not be required.

The normal recovery time is six to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. Fortunately, Love has a legitimate chance to return sooner, given he will not be forced to go under the knife. Furthermore it could allow fantasy owners to get an elite fantasy weapon at a discounted rate. Long-term, the injury shouldn't be a concern because bone heals and the nature of the injury was more bad luck than anything. Expect Love to return by early December and provide his normal productivity across the board.

In the meantime, Derrick Williams could get a chance to fill the vacated starting spot. Coach Rick Adelman was a bit dismissive of the idea suggesting a committee of players, including Williams and offseason signee Andrei Kirilenko, would be considered.

Andrew Bynum

The Sixers are hoping to make Bynum the focal point of their team after trading for the young center in the offseason. The move was made despite Bynum's well-chronicled knee issues that include a dislocated kneecap, a knee sprain, a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL), a meniscus tear, and a hyperextended knee with a knee contusion. Each of these injuries occurred in a four-year span but was not a concern last year. However, Bynum utilizes several various treatments to remain on the court including Orthokine Therapy, the procedure popularized by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

Bynum underwent the procedure during the offseason, flying to Germany to have it performed. The technique uses similar principles to a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection, utilizing the athlete's own blood and proteins to create a more suitable environment for healing. Following the procedure, Bynum suffered a mild knee contusion and was shut down to let it heal and to maximize the effects of the Orthokine treatment.

Early next week, Bynum will undergo another type of injection, a lubricant injection most often used by people suffering from arthritis or osteoarthritis. Both conditions negatively affect the smooth cartilage of the joint and the body's natural lubricant known as synovial fluid. As cartilage in a joint breaks down or synovial fluid dries up, the joint does not move as smoothly, resulting in pain and stiffness. To combat these adverse reactions, a synthetic lubricant known as Synvisc can be injected into the area. Synvisc mimics healthy synovial fluid allowing for the joint to properly move and handle the high amounts of stress placed on and through it. Additionally, the drug has been proven to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent further cartilage break down. The effects of the injection generally last for six months and Bynum has already made the necessary plans to receive a second injection near the All-Star break.

The team hopes Bynum can begin practicing Wednesday, October 24 and be ready for the season opener one week later. The two areas of concern remain the status of the knee and the level of the center's conditioning. As the knee has recovered, Bynum has been limited to non-weight bearing exercise and will have to recover quickly to be effective. Don't be surprised if Bynum struggles out of the gate as he adjusts to new teammates while rounding into shape.

Andrew Bogut

Another center in a new jersey is attempting to overcome offseason surgery but is not having quite the success he initially expected. Bogut suffered a fractured left ankle last January that ultimately required arthroscopic surgery in April. The procedure removed several bone spurs and pieces of loose cartilage within the joint. Unfortunately, the ankle is not responding as quickly as hoped and Bogut is slated to meet with his surgeon on Monday. The odds of Bogut playing in the preseason are diminishing and it looks like this may spill over into the regular season. Tread lightly on draft day, as there is plenty to be worried about here. Big men often take longer to bounce back from foot and ankle problems and Bogut's slow recovery is worrisome. The majority of Bogut's injuries in the past have been isolated, unfortunate incidents but this looks more like a chronic, ongoing issue. Don't reach on the Aussie center and understand his level of injury risk remains very high.

Fast Breaks

Jason Richardson: The veteran is dealing with a mild case of tendinitis in his knee that forced him to sit out an exhibition win over the Cavaliers. Keep an eye on his availability during the remainder of the preseason to see if it will affect his status for the season opener.

Jeff Teague: The Hawks guard limped off the court Thursday night with a sprained ankle. Teague was solid last season as a first-year starter and could be looking to build on those numbers if his ankle will allow it. If he is forced to miss any time, Devin Harris may be called upon to start at point guard.

Dwyane Wade: Wade returned to action Thursday, scoring 21 points in a preseason win over the Pistons. It was his first game since undergoing offseason surgery on his left knee.

John Wall: Wall continues to make progress in rehab, performing dribbling drills and other light basketball-related activities. However, he remains several weeks away as he recovers from a stress reaction in his knee.

Nene: With Wall out, the return of Nene would provide a nice boost for the Wizards. Nene has been dealing with plantar fasciitis since last season and aggravated the injury during the Olympics. However, he has begun to make steps forward and is using a new orthotic that should allow him to be available for the start of the regular season.

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