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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.

by Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Injury Expert

For NBA players, nothing is quite as frustrating as an injury. However, a bad situation can be made worse when a player attempts to return too early. An acute injury can develop into a chronic and a reoccurring injury causing the player to yo-yo back and forth between the active and inactive list. While often to the chagrin of fantasy owners, the smart thing is to give the player several extra days to rest and come back at 100 percent rather than playing them prematurely. For example Denver has been particularly (and wisely) caution with point guard Chauncey Billups. After a strained groin forced him to miss three games, Billups attempted to return in a game against Portland. However the groin was clearly still an issue and the Nuggets elected to sit their floor general until the injury completely healed. After missing an additional five game, it now appears Billups is ready to return to action as he is expected to play in Denver's Friday game against Cleveland.

Pau Gasol

Lakers power forward Paul Gasol is currently missing time with his second hamstring injury of the year. Earlier this season Gasol missed the Lakers' first 11 games nursing a hamstring strain in his right leg. In last week's blowout win over the Mavericks, Gasol injured his left hamstring and has been inactive for Los Angeles' last two games.

The hamstring is not actually an isolated muscle but instead a group of muscles, the semimembranous, semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris. These muscles work in unison to move both the upper and lower leg. They help extend (move back) the upper portion of the leg and flex (straighten) the knee and lower leg. They also serve as the primary decelerators of the leg when an athlete is running. A strain to the area results in pain with movement and makes performing activities like running and jumping very difficult. Medical professionals have created a classification for strains due to the varying amount of damage and associated symptoms. A Grade I strain is considered minor with little to no micro tearing of the muscle fibers and the resulting symptoms are generally caused by muscle spasm. A Grade II is more serious as the hamstring has suffered a partial tear and pain and loss of function are greater than in a Grade I strain. The most severe ranking is a Grade III that occurs when a complete tear of the muscle or tendon occurs. Grade III injuries often result in a loss of function and severe swelling and pain. In addition the length of recovery time increases as the grade of the injury increases.

Gasol's first injury of the season was classified as a Grade II hamstring strain. The Lakers gave Gasol an extended period of rehabilitation and recovery before they allowed the former All-Star to return to action. While it is fortunate that the latest injury is a Grade I strain, expect the Lakers medical staff to be just as cautious this time especially when you consider the three-year $57 million contract extension that Gasol just signed. While he may return this weekend, it is more likely Gasol will return to action some time next week. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum have both seen an increase in production with their teammate sidelined and should continue to provide fantasy owners with solid rebounding numbers as long as Gasol remains inactive.

Deron Williams

Utah point guard Deron Williams missed his team's win over Memphis on Wednesday and is not expected to play in the rematch on Friday as the two teams meet in back-to-back games. Williams is nursing a sprained and bruised right wrist that he initially injured in a fall against the Hornets. Like muscle strains, ligaments sprains are classified based on severity. A Grade I sprain, like Williams has suffered, is considered minor with partial tearing of the ligament while a Grade III is often a complete tear of the ligament and considered a more significant injury. While an X-ray and a MRI both came back negative, the wrist remains stiff and painful. The situation is more complicated because it occurred to his right hand and is causing serious problems to his ability to shoot and dribble. Wrist injuries are often carefully monitored to insure they do not become a reoccurring injury that could eventually lead to problems with the tiny carpal bones of the wrist as well as the blood flow to the hand.

Williams will continue to wear a splint to stabilize the injury and hopes to return at some point in the upcoming week. The Jazz are desperately thin at the point guard position as backup guard Ronnie Price is also injured, suffering from tendinitis in his left shoulder. If Price cannot suit up, Utah may be forced to start Sundiata Gaines, an undrafted rookie from Georgia who recently spent time playing for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League. While Gaines did play in Wednesday's game, recording three points on 1-of-7 shooting while handing out five assists, he is not considered a valuable fantasy commodity.

Kevin Garnett

The Celtics training staff continues to be cautious with All-Star forward Kevin Garnett and his surgically repaired right knee. Garnett underwent offseason arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his right knee. The forward aggressively rehabbed over the summer and returned to action to start the season. Unfortunately Garnett hyper-extended the same knee in a recent game against Golden State and has since missed the Celtics' last three outings. A hyper-extension injury occurs when a joint is stretched past its normal limit, often resulting in a ligament sprain and/or a muscular strain. Head coach Doc Rivers expects his team to be without Garnett for another week or two but based on his previous history; expect Garnett to miss more time than usual and to be slowly reinserted into the lineup when he returns to form. Veteran Rasheed Wallace has started in Garnett's absence, averaging 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Article first appeared on 1/09/10