NBA Injury Analysis: Minor Sprain, Major Frustration

NBA Injury Analysis: Minor Sprain, Major Frustration

This article is part of our NBA Injury Analysis series.

The first week of the NBA season was littered with a high number of minor sprains and strains. While these injuries won't necessarily keep a player off the court, they may be frustrating for fantasy owners, as they could impact performance and productivity. It's important for an owner, especially those in weekly leagues, to keep that in mind when evaluating your roster.

Ricky Rubio

The Timberwolves point guard has struggled to start the year and now his problems are compounded by an elbow injury. Rubio suffered a sprained right elbow on Sunday following a collision with Kings forward Anthony Tolliver.

The elbow is a simple hinge joint stabilized by thee major ligaments. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and the radial collateral ligament (RCL) fortify the sides of the elbow. The annular ligament surrounds the head of the lower arm bone known as the radius and helps keep it inline with the humerus, the bone of the upper arm.

All three ligaments are vulnerable to injury, though the rate of elbow sprains in the NBA is significantly smaller than in throwing sports like baseball or football. The UCL is the most frequently injured of the trio and is the ligament repaired in the now infamous procedure known as Tommy John surgery.

The amount of time needed to recover from an elbow sprain varies based on the severity of the damage accrued. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Minnesota is still evaluating Rubio's injury and has yet to reveal the ligament involved or

The first week of the NBA season was littered with a high number of minor sprains and strains. While these injuries won't necessarily keep a player off the court, they may be frustrating for fantasy owners, as they could impact performance and productivity. It's important for an owner, especially those in weekly leagues, to keep that in mind when evaluating your roster.

Ricky Rubio

The Timberwolves point guard has struggled to start the year and now his problems are compounded by an elbow injury. Rubio suffered a sprained right elbow on Sunday following a collision with Kings forward Anthony Tolliver.

The elbow is a simple hinge joint stabilized by thee major ligaments. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and the radial collateral ligament (RCL) fortify the sides of the elbow. The annular ligament surrounds the head of the lower arm bone known as the radius and helps keep it inline with the humerus, the bone of the upper arm.

All three ligaments are vulnerable to injury, though the rate of elbow sprains in the NBA is significantly smaller than in throwing sports like baseball or football. The UCL is the most frequently injured of the trio and is the ligament repaired in the now infamous procedure known as Tommy John surgery.

The amount of time needed to recover from an elbow sprain varies based on the severity of the damage accrued. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Minnesota is still evaluating Rubio's injury and has yet to reveal the ligament involved or the degree of injury. However there is reason to believe Rubio could end up in street clothes. 70 percent of the last 27 reported cases of in-season elbow sprains resulted in a player missing time. The averaged missed time for these recent examples is 4.2 games, strengthening the case that Rubio will likely miss a game or two with this ailment. Keep an eye out for more information over the next 24-48 hours, especially with the Timberwolves slated for just three games this week. Rookie Kris Dunn would likely take over the starting point guard spot and could be a nice candidate for an early season stream.

James Harden

After one week, Harden has thrived in coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense, averaging 29.3 points, 10.7 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game. However an ankle injury could threaten to slow Harden down after the All-Star guard rolled his left ankle in Sunday's win over the Mavericks. Harden was seen limping following the game but downplayed the severity of the injury. However the demands of running D'Antoni's offense are considerable and any limitation could impact Harden. Keep rolling Harden out there but scale back your expectations for his early games this week.

Dirk Nowitzki

The former MVP has appeared in just one of Dallas' first three contests after coming down with a stomach bug late last week. He appeared poised to play on Sunday but was a late scratch as he was unable to successfully combat the cramping and other symptoms associated with the illness. The Mavs also noted Nowitzki is managing soreness in his Achilles. The team entered the year hoping to limit Nowitzki's minutes but an overtime game on Opening Night altered those plans. Now it appears the Achilles is causing him some discomfort though he told reporters that it was the illness and not the Achilles that forced him to miss his second straight outing. However the injury will be worth monitoring given Nowitzki's lengthy history of ankle problems and a career workload of over 47,000 regular season minutes.

Hassan Whiteside

The Heat big man briefly left Sunday's loss to the Spurs after falling on his right knee. However he would later return and appeared unencumbered on his way to 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. There appears to be little cause for concern, even though the injury appeared to occur to the same knee he sprained during last season's playoffs. The injury is just the latest setback for Whiteside who is also nursing a swollen elbow. Fortunately for the big man the Heat play just two games over the next seven days, giving him extra time to heal up. Given Miami's light load those in weekly formats may want to at least consider all their options before committing to Whiteside this week.

Kevin Durant

Durant looks comfortable in a Golden State jersey, averaging 31.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in the first three games of the season. However he did tweak his ankle Sunday in the team's win over the Suns and was evaluated by the team's medical staff following the game. Fortunately the latest injury occurred to the ankle opposite his surgically repaired foot, allowing the former MVP to avoid overloading the previous injury site. However it will be important for the Golden State staff to take the appropriate steps in treatment to protect Durant from any kind of muscle imbalance or compensation shift that could put excessive stress on his right side. Still the injury will likely end up as nothing more than inconvenience for the 28-year-old as he remains a top fantasy weapon.

John Wall

The Wizards point guard struggled in Sunday's loss to Memphis, finishing 5-of-17 from the field, including 2-of-8 from long-range. Wall's subpar performance could be linked to a hard fall that occurred in the season opener. Atlanta's Kent Bazemore undercut Wall on a dunk attempt, sending him crashing to the floor. The impact left Wall with soreness in his back that may have lingered into Sunday's game. Wall will have a chance to bounce back this week with a three-game slate starting Wednesday against the Raptors.

DeAndre Jordan

The Clippers center suffered a right thumb sprain on Sunday but was able to return to the game after having the area taped. X-rays on the area were negative for any bone damage and Jordan is not expected to miss any time. Jordan has been one of the most reliable players in the NBA, missing just seven game total games for his career. Unless further testing reveals the ligament damage to be worse than expected, look for him to remain in the Clippers lineup.

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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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