This article is part of our NBA Injury Analysis series.
RotoWire's Jeff Stotts breaks down what you need to know about the injuries most affecting fantasy basketball in Week 16
Clint Capela, Wendell Carter, Jr., and Spencer DinwiddieThumb sprains have suddenly become the in-vogue injury of the NBA season. Multiple players, headlined by Capela, Carter, and Dinwiddie, have sustained the injury in recent weeks, sending them to the sidelines.
The thumb is made of three bones, the proximal and distal phalanges and the first metacarpal of the hand. The proximal phalanx and first metacarpal form the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint near the base of the thumb. Two ligaments, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and the radial collateral ligament (RCL), fortify the MCP joint and prevent excessive motion. The UCL is the primary stabilizer and sits on the inside of the thumb.
UCL thumb sprains occur more frequently than RCL sprains, most often after a player gets hung up on something like a base in baseball or in an opponent's jersey. Surgery is often the best course of treatment to repair the sustained damage. Multiple NBA players have suffered the injury, including Larry Sanders, Shaquille O'Neal, and Chris Paul. Since the 2005-06 NBA season, the average number of missed games for in-season UCL repairs is 26.2 games or roughly seven weeks.
Fortunately a new technique in surgery has recently emerged and the return to play is improving. For example, Chris Paul was back in action after missing 14 games. The technique includes an internal brace that allows