NBA Injury Analysis: When to Expect Joel Embiid Back

NBA Injury Analysis: When to Expect Joel Embiid Back

This article is part of our NBA Injury Analysis series.

RotoWire's Jeff Stotts writes on the prognoses for Joel Embiid, Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, and more.

Joel Embiid, 76ers

Embiid has been limited by injury since entering the league. However, his latest health setback involves his hand, not his historically problematic knee and foot. The Sixers' center suffered a nasty looking dislocation of his left ring finger in last week's win over the Thunder. He managed to play through the injury at the time but additional testing revealed a torn radial collateral ligament (RCL) of the digit that was addressed surgically on Friday.

Ligament damage following a dislocation isn't surprising as the force needed to push a joint out of alignment must often disrupt the surrounding soft tissue structures for a dislocation to occur. In Embiid's case, the ligament connecting his fourth knuckle to his right finger failed. He is slated to be reevaluated in one-to-two weeks and has an outside chance of returning at that time. The fact that he injured his non-shooting hand may help but history suggests Embiid is more likely to miss three-to-four weeks. Al Horford will shift to the starting center position with Mike Scott joining the starts at power forward. Unfortunately, Scott hasn't been overly impressive since joining the starters, averaging just 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds on 35 percent shooting.

Kristaps Porzingis       

The Mavs'  big man has missed eight straight games with knee soreness, a vague description that is more of a symptom than a diagnosis. However, the Mavs did provide a bit of insight late last week when they revealed Porzingis underwent a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to aid in the recovery process.

Biologic injections, including PRP, have grown in popularity in recent years and have become routine in most professional sports. They can used for an assortment of ailments though the studies on their effectiveness remains in question. To initiate a PRP injection, a sample of the athlete's blood is taken and broken down into various components in a machine known as a centrifuge. A protein-concentrated mixture is then removed from the separated sample and introduced at the injury site. The PRP mixture is highly concentrated with platelets, the primary component of blood responsible for clotting. The belief is that the influx of platelets will accelerate the body's natural healing response and allow it to work in a more efficient manner.

While PRP is designed to speed recovery, the athlete still requires time to adequately recuperate. Since the 2009-10 season, there have been 24 noted cases of NBA players opting for PRP injections to treat knee-related issues. The average number of missed games in these cases was 10 games. Porzingis is nearing the 10-game mark as Dallas embarks on a two-game West coast road trip starting Tuesday at Golden State. Look for the Mavericks to continue their cautious approach, though the team is optimistic he could be back by the end of the week. With just three games on this week's schedule, benching Porzingis for one more week may be the safe play, even if he comes back Tuesday night after going through practice Monday.

Fast Breaks

Anthony Davis The All-Star center missed a pair of games last week after a scary fall on January 7. The impact left Davis with a bruised glute muscle, an injury that can be much more painful than it sounds. Fortunately, Davis appears to have avoided a more significant injury and will be listed as questionable entering the week ahead. Kyle Kuzma will continue to start and see a bump in value if Davis remains sidelined. Kuzma has averaged 31.0 points on 52 percent shooting since joining the starting five.

Derrick Favors: Favors had just started to round into form following a 13-game absence for personal and medical reasons before suffering a strained hamstring in New Orleans' win over New York on Friday. The nine-year-veteran was averaging a near double-double (9.5 points and 11.2 rebounds) in the 13 games leading up to the injury but was unable to play over the weekend.

He sat out Monday's contest and will be a major question mark for the week ahead. Hamstring injuries are notoriously fickle and will only elevate Favors' already inherently high injury risk. Jaxson Hayes becomes a worthwhile investment for the immediate future. The rookie center scored a career-high 20 points (9-of-13 FG, 2-of-5 FT) filling in for Favors on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday: Big men aren't the only Pelcans players managing injuries as the team's starting point guard remains out with an elbow injury. Originally listed as an elbow contusion, Holiday's injury was later diagnosed as a triceps strain. The triceps is located on the posterior aspect of the upper arm and is responsible for extending the arm at the elbow joint, making the differential diagnosis unsurprising. Triceps strains can have a negative impact on an individual's filed goal percentage as they are unable to smoothly perform their normal shooting mechanics. Holiday remains without a definitive timeline and expectations regarding his performance, especially his percentages, should be scaled back even when does return to the court. 

Pascal Siakam: The Raptors welcomed Siakam back on Sunday after the forward missed 11 games with a groin strain. He struggled with his shot in his first game back, finishing 6-of-17 from the field for 15 points. Look for those numbers to improve as he knocks off any accumulated rust. Regardless, Siakam will still carry plenty of the load on offense with teammate Fred VanVleet expected to miss a "little while" with a hamstring strain.

Trae Young: Young has managed to miss minimal time this season despite suffering a variety of ailments throughout the year. Since the preseason, the second-year guard has endured back soreness, multiple ankle sprains, and a calf contusion but missed just three games. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to play through pain in his left hamstring on Sunday as he was a spectator in the team's loss to the Nets. As mentioned with Favors, hamstring injuries tend to linger and can be easily aggravated, especially for players who play a style predicated on speed and explosiveness. All indications are that Young will return Tuesday night, but he's still worth keeping an eye on in over the next few days. Two-way player Brandon Goodwin started Sunday but finished with just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, including 1-8 from behind the arc.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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