Injury Analysis: How Much Time Will Kyrie, Luka Miss?

Injury Analysis: How Much Time Will Kyrie, Luka Miss?

This article is part of our NBA Injury Analysis series.

As the All-Star break on the horizon, RotoWire's Jeff Stotts checks in on the injury situations to monitor around the NBA.

Luka Doncic, Mavericks

The Mavericks All-Star is expected to miss the next few weeks with a right ankle sprain sustained in practice. Doncic missed four games earlier in the season with a similar injury and is expected to miss at least five more games after sitting out Saturday's win over the Hawks.

It will be crucial to Doncic's long-term health that he allows the ligaments and additional ankle stabilizers to adequately heal. As a result, look for the Mavericks to handle his recovery conservatively, even if that threatens his availability for the All-Star game. Kristaps Porzingis has thrived when Doncic sits, averaging 25.0 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks when Luka is in street clothes.

Point guard Jalen Brunson is also worth fantasy consideration for the immediate future. In the seven games Doncic has missed, Brunson has averaged 15.3 points on 47.3 percent shooting while handing out 8.1 assists per game.

Kyrie Irving, Nets

Irving will not play this week after suffering what the Nets are calling a "medial ligament" sprain in his right knee.

Based on the description, it sounds like Irving suffered a low-grade medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain. The MCL sits on the inside aspect of the knee and helps stabilize the joint during lateral movement. The MCL is capable of healing without surgical intervention, especially if meniscus damage is avoided. It sounds like Irving avoided any serious complications despite the gruesome-looking mechanism of injury.

Still, the Nets' medical staff will not rush Irving's recovery and it wouldn't be surprising to see him sit longer than expected. Brooklyn's update on the injury did not say he would be back in week but simply re-evaluated. In the meantime, Spencer Dinwiddie is expected to return to the starting lineup and should be rostered if he ended up back on the waiver wire.

Norman Powell, Raptors

The reigning champs continue to battle injury woes during their title defense with Powell suffering the latest setback. The Toronto swingman suffered a fractured fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand and is currently without a timeline for a return. 

The five metacarpal bones are located in the hand and bridge the carpal bones of the wrist and the long bones of the fingers.  The end of each metacarpal closest to the fingers form the knuckles of the hand. This positioning makes the metacarpals susceptible to breaking, especially following a direct blow or an axial load. As a result, metacarpal fractures are often known as a Boxer's Fracture.

While the NBA isn't a true contact support, multiple All-Star caliber players, including Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Love, have all suffered broken metacarpals in recent seasons. In fact, Powell is the third player this year alone to break his fourth metacarpal, joining a list that includes Boston's Gordon Hayward and Golden State's Damion Lee.

The necessary recovery time normally depends on multiple factors, including the specific metacarpal fractured. The fourth metacarpal sits beneath the ring finger and is generally more mobile to allow extra motion at the wrist and pinkie. Due to this additional mobility, fourth metacarpal fractures often requires extra healing time.

If displaced, metacarpal fractures are often repaired surgically to ensure a smooth union of the fragmented bone. While surgery often prolongs recovery, the difference between surgical and non-surgical treatments for fourth metacarpal fractures in the NBA isn't significant. Since the 2005-06 season, both approaches cost NBA players in average of roughly 15 games lost per incidence. As a result, look for Powell to return sometime in mid-March.

Terence Davis is expected to see a bump in minutes with Powell out. Davis impressed in his first opportunity, scoring a career-high 31 points to go with six made three-pointers, four rebounds, and one assist in 28 minutes played on Sunday.

Fast Breaks

Marvin Bagley: The Kings forward has aggravated his previously sprained foot and is expected to miss at least three additional weeks recuperating. The mid-foot is the keystone of the foot and vital to its overall integrity. Even when he does return, Bagley will remain at risk for re-injury.  It's beginning to look like a lost season for the second-year forward, who has appeared in just 13 games this season. Nemanja Bjelica will return to the starting power forward slot with Bagley out.

Kris Dunn: Like Irving, the Bulls starting point guard has suffered a MCL sprain and will not play in the week ahead. The team is still evaluating the severity of the sprain and will build a recovery timeline based on those results. Chandler Hutchison joined Chicago's starting lineup on Sunday, scoring 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting.

Kemba Walker: Boston's All-Star point guard is currently managing recurring soreness in his left knee and will not play Monday against the Hawks. Two weeks ago, I warned of the complications surrounding Walker's balky knee. He has dealt with issues with the joint since college and has undergone multiple surgeries to clean up the area due to cartilage issues and a cyst. An extended absence may be in Boston's best interest, especially with the All-Star break on the horizon. Walker remains day-to-day but he may be worth benching in weekly formats. Teammate Marcus Smart is also unlikely to play Monday after getting kneed in the thigh by Philadelphia's Joel Embiid over the weekend. 

Trae Young: The All-Star point guard is once again nursing a sprained right ankle though the team is downplaying the severity. However, as mentioned with Doncic, the ankle will remain vulnerable to re-injury if he continues to play before adequate healing of the ligament and neighboring soft tissue has occurred. Fortunately, he has a skilled medical team working on the injury and he has shown a propensity for bouncing back quickly. Young is considered probable for Monday's game against the Celtics. Atlanta's backcourt will already be thin on Monday with Cam Reddish sidelined by a concussion sustained in the team's loss to the Mavericks. Reddish will be out until he can complete the league's mandated return to play protocol.

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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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