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NBA Injury Analysis: Grizzlies Lose Two Starters

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.

Gilbert Arenas
Arenas' attempt to bounce back from a turbulent season last year is being slowed by an ankle strain. It is important to keep in mind that an ankle strain is significantly different than an ankle sprain. A strain occurs to a muscle or tendon while a sprain is used to classify an injury that has occurred to a stabilizing ligament that connects bone to bone. Both can occur isolated or in the same injury. However the two ailments vary in their recovery time. Strains often heal quicker because muscles generally have a better blood supply. Arenas first reported soreness and discomfort in his right ankle before the start of the preseason. The ankle recently became as issue again and the team has since diagnosed the strain. The Wizards sent Arenas to consult with an ankle-and-foot specialist in Baltimore to determine the best course of treatment. Arenas received an injection during the consultation and will be reevaluated on Sunday. Coach Flip Saunders expects Arenas to miss at least one more game and is hoping he will be available for the home opener on Tuesday against the 76ers. It is unfortunate that a talent like Arenas has been so plagued by injuries and off-the-court issues. Hopefully fantasy owners paid attention to his troubled past and did not waste a high pick on the three-time All-Star. Kirk Hinrich will continue to start alongside rookie John Wall until Arenas is ready to return.

Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
The Memphis Grizzlies are already without two of their five starters, just one game into the 2010-2011 season. Power forward Zach Randolph last just 15 minutes in the season opener after he fell in the first quarter of the team's Wednesday night loss to the Hawks. Randolph suffered a lower back contusion and a bruised tailbone in the fall. The tailbone is medically known as the coccyx and is the final segment of the spine. In the majority of the population four fused bones form the coccyx and the area serves as a site for ligament and muscle attachment. Pain in the area is referred to as coccydynia. Coccydynia can be extremely painful and very slow to heal. It can cause problems while sitting and make it very difficult to run and jump. Randolph is considered day-to-day and has already been ruled out for Friday's game at Dallas. Darrell Arthur will start in Randolph's place. Fantasy owners of the former All-Star should remain patient and hope he is able to return sometime in the next week when the team departs on a four-game road trip.

Randolph's teammate is also out for Friday's contest against the Mavericks as Marc Gasol nurses a sprained left ankle that he initially suffered during a recent practice. Ligament sprain and muscle strains are classified based on severity. A Grade I sprain is considered minor with little to no tearing of the ligament while a Grade III is often a complete tear of the ligament and considered a more significant injury. Gasol's injury falls in the middle and is being classified as a Grade II ankle sprain, meaning the ligaments have been partially torn but there is no resulting instability. The Memphis center is considered day-to-day. Hasheem Thabeet will get the start with both Randolph and Gasol sidelined. The injuries to Memphis' frontcourt could help fantasy owners invested in any of the Grizzlies backcourt. OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley should all see their production increase over the next few games, as Memphis will be forced to play small ball until their bruisers return.

Martell Webster, Jonny Flynn
The Timberwolves will be without one of their newest members as Martell Webster recovers from back surgery. Webster underwent a microdiscectomy to relieve a herniated disk in his back. To understand what is occurring when a vertebral disk herniates, imagine a jelly-filled donut. The baked dough on the outside of a jelly donut is in comparable to the annulus fibrosis, the thicker, outer portion of a disc. Inside the annulus fibrosis is a softer center known as the nucleus pulposus (the jelly). When constant pressure is applied to the disc, the nucleus pulposus can bulge out in a way similar to jelly squirting out of a jelly donut if you were to squeeze it in your hands. This bulge can irritate nerves in the back, resulting in shooting pain and radicular pain in the lower extremities. A microdiscectomy is performed to remove the material that is impinging on the nerves. Webster hopes to return in four-to-six weeks but that seems optimistic. Portland's Rudy Fernandez underwent a similar procedure last season and missed 19 games. Rookie Wesley Johnson and Wayne Ellington, who started the opener, will see the biggest increase in minutes with Webster out.

Webster's absence will be eased by the eventual return of Jonny Flynn, who is still rehabbing from surgery on his left hip. Flynn underwent a procedure in August to repair a torn labrum. The main joint of the hip is the acetabulofemoral (AF) joint. The AF joint is classified as a ball-and-socket joint, similar to the shoulder, and resembles a golf ball sitting on a tee. The AF consists of the head of the femur (the golf ball) articulating in a groove of the pelvis known as the acetabulum (the tee). The ball (head of the femur) can freely pivot on the tee (acetabulum) allowing for a large degree of motion. A fibrocartilaginous ring known as the labrum deepens the acetabulum to insure stability of the ball on the tee. Occasionally the labrum will get a tear from repetitive overuse or following a violent collision or fall. Labral tears are very painful and can lead to chronic instability in the hip. Flynn underwent a procedure in which the labrum was sutured and a portion of the bone was shaved down. If Flynn needs anyone to swap rehab ideas with he needn't look far. Minnesota Viking Sydney Rice underwent a similar procedure earlier this year and continues to recover. The Timberwolves expect Flynn back by mid-November and he could be a solid addition for fantasy owners that get off to a slow start.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.