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NBA Injury Analysis: Hobbled T-Wolves

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

The Minnesota Timberwolves

Last year the Timberwolves were a MASH unit on their way to losing a
league-worst 346 games to injury. The number marked the second highest total over the last five seasons, trailing Golden State's 2008-09 season numbers by 50 games. However, this season has been marked by a significant change in fortune as the team has lost just 137 games to injury entering the week. Still, fantasy owners can't help but feel a little disappointed as their three main offensive weapons are suddenly in street clothes.

It starts with All-Star forward Kevin Love who missed just his third game of the season Saturday. He entered the week battling illness but managed to remain in the lineup through Friday. However, the marathon win over Miami on Friday was too much for Love and he was a surprise scratch on Saturday due to back spasms. It seems back spasms have been referenced on a weekly basis here but the same truths apply to Love. Treating the symptoms of an injury, in this case spasms, will keep a player from ever returning to full strength. However, by pinpointing the issue, then the root of the problem can be addressed and the associated symptoms will subside. The Timberwolves have not released the source of Love's spasms so consider him day-to-day until then.

Love's frontcourt teammate Nikola Pekovic is also sidelined, but the culprit behind his sore right ankle has in fact been determined. Pekovic has battled Achilles bursitis in his right ankle since late January and the condition has once again flared up. Like tendinitis, bursitis is an ailment best treated with rest. Anti-inflammatory medication can temporarily minimize the inflammation and some related symptoms, but stopping the activity causing the irritation remains the basis for most rehab programs. Given that Pekovic's ankle has become inflamed and sore following any extended period of activity, he simply cannot be relied upon for the remainder of the season. However, his absence has allowed rookie Gorgui Dieng to emerge as a surprisingly effective replacement. Dieng has excelled as a member of the starting unit, averaging 12.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in nine starts. He earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors and should be owned in all leagues still playing.

Kevin Martin is the third member of the Timberwolves usual starting five sitting with injury. Like Love, Martin's listed injury isn't a true injury as he's sat for two consecutive games due to a sore right foot. Foot soreness could be a caused by a myriad of things all with varying rates of recovery. He will have to be considered day-to-day until a further explanation is provided but playing him in weekly leagues is extremely risky. Guard J.J. Barea has replaced Martin in the Minnesota backcourt.

David Lee

The Warriors welcomed Andrew Bogut back from his pelvic contusion on Sunday, but they continue to wait on Lee. Unfortunately, further evaluation revealed the injury is more than just a simple hamstring strain. Nerve irritation was detected on a recent MRI, clouding the return date of the All-Star forward. The hamstring is actually a muscle complex comprised of three muscles. Each muscle of the hamstring group is innervated by a specific branch of the sciatic nerve that can be pinched or irritated by neighboring trauma or inflammation. Lee must now allow the strain to heal but incorporate extra time to let the nerve recover. Any lingering nerve issues can result in pain and loss of function.

Fast Breaks

Carmelo Anthony: Anthony is playing through a painful and limiting right shoulder strain. He initially injured the shoulder Wednesday in a blowout win over the Nets. In the two games since the injury occurred, Anthony is averaging 11.5 points on 29 percent shooting while averaging 5.0 turnovers a game. He's clearly laboring while playing and a continued dip in productivity should be expected. He can't sit with the Knicks fighting for their playoff lives but fantasy owners may be forced to look elsewhere to close out the season.

Jamal Crawford: Coach Doc Rivers eluded that Crawford may not return before the postseason making him droppable in all leagues. Crawford has missed four straight games after aggravating a previously strained left calf and Achilles. The Clippers did welcome back J.J. Redick who should be scooped up if he remains available. Redick looked rusty in his first game back from a bulging disc in his back but faired much better Sunday. He finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his first start since February 3rd.

Anthony Davis: Davis has been a top-five fantasy option when healthy this season, but lingering pain in his back makes him a likely candidate to see his season prematurely end. He's struggled through three consecutive games, failing to score in double figures in two of them. With the Pelicans out of the playoff hunt, the team will likely look to protect the future of the franchise, much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners.

Ty Lawson: Hearing a player describe an injury as the worst one of his career is never a good thing, but that's precisely what Lawson was quoted as saying following his recent left ankle sprain. He said the ankle was significantly swollen and he left the arena in a walking boot. He did not play Sunday with Aaron Brooks assuming the starting point guard responsibilities.

Tony Parker: Parker left Sunday's win over Memphis with back spasms and will undergo a MRI Monday. Parker missed a game earlier in the season with lower back tightness, suggesting his problem could be muscular in nature. Regardless of the findings it would be wise to anticipate this latest setback to cost Parker at least one game.

Dwyane Wade: Wade continues to miss time with a left hamstring strain. If you exclude games missed to scheduled rest, eight of Wade's 11 missed games have been due to left leg issues. The last two injuries, the hamstring strain and a previous Achilles strain, are likely connected and could be a reason for his slow recovery.