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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 trade deadline has come and gone and numerous teams are changing their depth charts accordingly. The addition of new players can further hinder injured players as they now must battle injury as well as competition from a new face. Keep a close eye on how coaches handle injured players and new acquisitions as the fantasy basketball playoffs grow closer.

Tracy McGrady

New York's newest Knick is looking to prove himself, as guard Tracy McGrady will return to the court after a near two-month layoff. T-Mac has been beset with injuries over the last few seasons and underwent the dreaded microfracture surgery last February. The goal of the surgery is to replace old and damaged cartilage with new cartilage that will be durable enough to withstand the rigors of basketball. While once considered a career-killer, the procedure and subsequent treatment has advanced enough to allow players to successfully return to play.

McGrady was cleared to return to action earlier in the season and saw limited minutes in three games. However the Rockets elected to shutdown the former All-Star and let him seek a trade. Since taking the leave of absence, McGrady has spent time with renowned trainer Tim Grover and claims he is ready to play. Grover, who built his reputation by working with stars like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, has carefully monitored McGrady's progress and is confident he will able to contribute. McGrady will spend the next months in New York auditioning for a contract and fantasy owners may be able to capitalize. However remember McGrady has not played virtually all season and his conditioning is likely not 100 percent making him a risky pickup in all formats.

Dwyane Wade

All-Star Game MVP didn't make it out of Miami's first game following the break as Dwyane Wade limped off the court with a left calf strain. The calf consists of two muscles known as the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Together the muscles conjoin in the Achilles tendon and attach to the heel. The calf complex is primarily responsible for pointing the foot (plantar flexion) and is also utilized in lower leg flexion. Fortunately the swelling associated with a muscle strain has diminished significantly and Wade has been able to maintain full range of motion and use of his left leg. The lack of inhibition is key and should help lead to a quick return. Remember the gastrocnemius and soleus are vital in accelerating and jumping and must be at full strength to allow Wade to play at his normal high level. The Heat remain encouraged by the progress Wade has made in the last 48 hours but still plan on resting their franchise player for the upcoming weekend. Fantasy owners will be disappointed Wade will not be available for the team's trip to Dallas, the setting of his recent All-Star performance and memorable Finals run, but should be thankful the injury is not more serious.

Kobe Bryant

Laker guard Kobe Bryant continues to miss time as he recovers from a sprained left ankle. While the ankle sprain has become common place in basketball, it remains a painful injury that leaves the player highly susceptible to respraining the ankle. When a ligament is sprained, it never completely returns to its original state. The violent forces that result in ligament damage often stretch the tissue beyond its yield point, increasing the laxity of the ligament resulting in an unstable ankle joint. An injured ligament is comparable to a worn out rubber band that is overstretched and incapable of returning to its original size and shape. The focus of treatment is to repair the damage as well as strength the ligament to its highest point so that a reoccurrence is less likely.

Bryant has probably reached the point of the rehab process that is focusing on strengthening the surrounding musculature and preparing the ligaments for the high demands required for basketball. He is likely improving his kinesthesia, a key aspect of muscle memory. Kinesthesia training focuses on preparing an athlete's ability to finely tune the position of a joint so that it will become an automatic response allowing the athlete to focus on another aspect of their activity. For example, by prepping the ankle joint for the necessary motions it is required to make while playing, Bryant can focus on dribbling and reading a defense instead of thinking about what his ankle is doing while he is cutting. Fantasy owners are itching to have their superstar back but should be thankful that Bryant will be better prepared and less likely to go down again when he eventually returns.

Erick Dampier

Despite numerous trade rumors, Maverick center Erick Dampier survived the trade deadline. Unfortunately he couldn't survive a battle with Russell Westbrook's shoe. In Dallas' recent game against the Thunder, Dampier suffered an open dislocation of the second phalange of his right middle finger when he was inadvertently kicked by Westbrook on a lay-up attempt. An open dislocation means the middle bone in his finger became luxuated as the two articulating surfaces at the proximal interphangeal joint disjoined. The force was so violent that it caused the bone to break out of the skin. Fortunately for Dampier the bone itself did not fracture but surgery was required to reset the bone and close the wound. Dallas expects the veteran to miss between three and five weeks as the finger heals but do plan on reevaluating the injury on a week to week basis.

Finger issues are particularly difficult for basketball players who require grip strength to secure rebounds and properly control the ball. Conditioning can be maintained while therapy focuses on improving and regaining dexterity. Fortunately for Dampier the time off will allow him to also rest his ailing left knee and could end up being a blessing in disguise as the Mavs head toward the playoffs. However this proves to be little help to fantasy owners and Dampier holds little to no fantasy weight for the remainder of the season. Newly acquired Brendan Haywood will serve as the starting center for Dallas and will likely remain there even when Dampier returns.

Article first appeared on 2/20/10