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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...

The NBA season continues to roll and the injuries continue to pile up. Several players are becoming regulars on the injury report while others have already seen their season end prematurely. These injuries are boosting the value of many players not selected in fantasy drafts as rookies and veterans alike are stepping up to fill in the voids. Fantasy owners should be opportunistic with injuries because significant injuries often create valuable waiver wire pickups.

Shaquille O'Neal

Cleveland's big offseason acquisition has been MIA from the lineup for the Cavalier's last three games with a shoulder strain. Cleveland is being very tight-lipped on the details of the injury, failing to even specify which shoulder has been hurt. A shoulder strain simply indicates the musculature around the shoulder is injured. The muscles of the shoulder joint not only allow for motion in multiple directions but also help support the joint itself, reinforcing the stability of the joint. It is important that strains are properly treated so that a chronic instability does not develop. The Diesel is unlikely to play this weekend but is hoping to return next week.

O'Neal's absence has allowed for J.J. Hickson to emerge as a legitimate inside presence. The second year big man has averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 rebounds since O'Neal was hurt, including a career-high 21 points against the Warriors. Those numbers may take a slight hit with Anderson Varejao expected to return from a hip contusion but Hickson is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd

The Bucks will once again be without their center for two to four weeks after a MRI revealed a lower leg strain and contusion. While often written off as simple bruise, a contusion to the lower leg can become something much more serious. The lower portion of the leg located beneath the knee is divided into four compartments. These compartments house muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Each compartment is separated by connective tissue, called fascial sheaths, as well as bone. This fascia is extremely durable but also pliable and able to expand. If one of these lower leg compartments is impacted by a direct blow, excessive swelling can be confined to the compartment. (Imagine a water balloon being slowly filled with water) If the swelling continues it can lead to permanent damage to the muscles and nerves contained in each compartmentalized area. Bogut will rest the leg and receive treatment while veteran centers Dan Gadzuric and Kurt Thomas should see in increase in minutes in his absence.

The impact of Bogut's injury will be somewhat offset by the approaching return of guard Michael Redd. Redd returned to practice earlier this week but has yet to participate in full-contact drills. The strain to his patellar tendon does not appear as serious as first believed and the former All-Star could return next week. Redd has missed Milwaukee's last seven games.

Chris Paul

An MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis of a left ankle sprain for the All-Star point guard. Paul initially "tweaked" the ankle in a win over the Clippers but then reinjured the ankle after he fell on Blazers' center Joel Przybilla in a loss to Portland. While the MRI showed no structural damage or fracture, there are conflicting reports on the severity of the sprain. Regardless Paul has been ruled out indefinitely and has not played in New Orleans' last three games. Rookie Darren Collison has started those three games and performed admirably. He has averaged 12.3 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 steals while leading the Hornets to back-to-back wins over the Clippers and Suns. Fantasy owners will have to show some patience with Paul and the Hornets and should expect New Orleans to be cautious with their franchise player.

Jameer Nelson

Another point guard from last year's All-Star team is out for an extended period of time as Orlando's Jameer Nelson is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The menisci are fibrocartilage disks, one C-shaped and the other O-shaped, which lie on the articulating surface of the tibia. The meniscus serve as a shock absorber for the knee and aid in stabilization. Unfortunately for Nelson the blood supply to the area is limited and even nonexistent in some portions of the menisci making natural healing extremely difficult. When torn, a surgeon must go in and repair or remove the damaged portion of the meniscus. Rehabilitation will begin quickly, focusing first on range of motion and then progressing to strengthening and weight bearing. The final stage will focus on sports specific activities, designed to prepare Nelson and his knee for the motions required for his position.

The blow is another frustrating setback for the fifth-year point guard who was in the midst of a breakout season last year, before being sidelined for the last half of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. In 11 games this season, Nelson is averaging 13.7 points and 5.5 assists. Veteran Jason Williams will assume the starting point guard responsibilities until Nelson returns.

Kelenna Azubuike

Golden State will be without swingman Azubuike for the remainder of the season after tearing the patella tendon in his left knee. The patellar tendon is the common tendon of the quadriceps muscles. This muscle is responsible for knee extension and is crucial for basketball players who require explosive movements like running and jumping to be effective. Furthermore, the patella, or knee cap, is located within the patellar tendon. A tear to this tendon is particularly debilitating and Azubuike will undergo surgery in the near future.

With Azubuike sidelined and Stephen Jackson now with the Bobcats, Anthony Morrow, Corey Maggette, and rookie Stephen Curry should all see in increase in minutes. However with Coach Don Nelson making the decisions, you never know what to expect so monitor their minutes carefully.

Article first appeared on 11/20/09