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In Street Clothes...

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.

In Street Clothes...
by Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Injury Expert

The long grind of the NBA season is nearing its conclusion. With teams battling for playoff positioning and in some cases out right playoff berths, injured players will be more inclined to play through pain. Unfortunately this puts fantasy owners in a tough spot as they try to field a team that is going to put them in the best position to win. Evaluate a player’s recent numbers and don’t be afraid to bench a big name player if his numbers are suffering as a result of a lingering injury.

Tyreke Evans

A rogue elbow has done what most defenses around the league have failed to do, stop rookie guard Tyreke Evans. Evans took an inadvertent elbow to the face that left him with a concussion, lacerated gums, and a chipped tooth. The Kings have played three games already without their star and have already ruled him out of Sacramento’s remaining two games this week. Evans attempted to practice on Thursday but was forced to stop after experiencing headaches. While normally a hot topic in the NFL, concussions are on the rise among NBA players. A list of players to suffer concussions in recent seasons includes Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, Houston’s Trevor Ariza, and Indiana’s Danny Granger.

A concussion occurs when a blow to the head or face temporary disrupts basic neurological functions such as vision, balance, and memory. Unfortunately grading the severity of a concussion has become difficult as multiple systems are utilized by various medical organizations. The most widely accepted grading systems are based on the athlete’s loss of consciousness and degree of symptoms. Since Evans did not lose consciousness, his concussion would be considered a Grade I or Grade II concussion. Exertional headaches, like the one Evans experienced on Thursday, are a common symptom following a Grade I or II concussion. The headaches should be considered a minor setback, as the majority of concussion protocols require an athlete to be symptom free for 24 hours before they are allowed to return to play.

Rest is the best treatment and while Evans will not be a participant this week, he could return for the Kings’ three games next week. Cross your fingers that the headaches resolve themselves and Evans is able to return.

Stephen Jackson

Already dealing with a bruised right heel, Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson recently revealed he is also dealing with an injury to his left index finger. While the finger is not fractured, Captain Jack has called the injury a bruised ligament at the top of the knuckle. The injury site and description suggest the injury is to the palmar ligament of the third metacarpophalangeal joint. This ligament is very thick and intertwined with the transverse metacarpal ligament stabilizing the joint and anchoring the flexor tendons of the finger. An injury to this area would cause pain in flexion like when shooting or palming a basketball. Jackson said he has been dealing with this issue for over a month, which would explain his subpar shooting in March. Since the calendar changed, Jackson has shot just above 40 percent from the field in Charlotte’s 14 games. While he emerged from his slump on Wednesday, scoring 37 points on 15-of-24 shooting, expect Jackson’s shot to be erratic as he plays through the finger injury.

Lou Williams

Philadelphia guard Lou Williams continues to miss time with a sore back and has now missed three of the Sixers’ last six games. When the muscles of the lower back are strained, the tissue becomes inflamed. The resulting inflammation leads to pain and spasm, entering the affected player into a vicious cycle. Spasms lead to pain which results in more spasms and subsequently more pain. Until the cycle is broken, low back injuries tend to linger giving the athlete problems for an extended period of time. Modalities such as electrical stimulation and heat are often utilized to loosen the lower muscles of the back and control the spasm and limit pain. Unfortunately for fantasy owners now is not the time for patience and given the uncertainty surrounding Williams other, more reliable options should be considered for the remainder of the season.

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol has been a spectator for Memphis’ last five games as he nurses a strained neck. Strains to the neck usually involve the upper trapezius, strenocleidomastoid, scalenes, splenius capitis, and/or the splenius cervicus. Neck strains can act similarly to lower back strains becoming spasmodic and painful. Strains to this area are often complicated by muscle guarding that limits the afflicted person’s ability to rotate their head. Obviously an inability to turn your head would greatly impact one’s ability to play basketball. Gasol has received extended treatment and is optimistic he will able to return on Sunday when the Grizzlies travel to Milwaukee. Rookie Hasheem Thabeet has filled in admirably for his injured teammate and may be worth a look for teams in keeper leagues.

Shane Battier

The Rockets have been without their defensive ace for the last three games as Shane Battier is dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. He suffered the injury after he collided with teammate Kyle Lowry while battling for an offensive rebound. An MRI confirmed the minor sprain and Battier has since begun treatment and rehabilitation. The MCL is a primary stabilizer of the knee and prevents excessive valgus or inward forces applied to the knee. Following a sprain at this site, the stability and range of motion of the knee is compromised and may be limited making lateral movement difficult. A decrease in lateral stability is particularly damaging to a defensive stalwart like Battier who makes a living on staying in front of his man on the defensive end. With the fantasy playoffs underway, owners cannot afford to keep a hobbled Battier on their rosters. Battier’s absence and minor injuries to teammates Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill have resulted in an increase in minutes for rookie Chase Budinger but his fantasy value remains low.

Article first appeared on 3/26/10