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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

In Street Clothes...
by Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert

The injury of note this week in the NBA appears centered on the lower back.

Allen Iverson

The first one we'll mention belongs to Allen Iverson. AI has missed the last four games for the Pistons dealing with a nonspecific back injury. As we have said many times before, back injuries are tough to pinpoint in a column like this because what do we really know? There is so much that can go wrong in that area including various muscle strains, disk problems and stress fractures. And it might be something that's been there since he was in high school or it could have just surfaced last week. Either way, all they have to say is spasms or strain and it covers the whole gamut in the public's eye.

No matter the diagnosis at this point, the plan as of March 4th was to rest from all basketball related activities for at least two weeks, then be reevaluated to see where he is, hoping at that point that he can return to the lineup in a reserve role. Recently he has made claims that he'll be back sooner than that estimate so who knows for sure. No matter what the specialists said when he went back visit some old friends at Georgetown, he's going to push to make it back for the stretch run. And according to reports he's perfectly happy coming off the bench because he's willing to do whatever it takes to help Detroit win a championship. For anyone who hasn't noticed, after an eight game losing streak that ended with AI's injury versus New Orleans on February 25th, the team has won four in a row without him. Is it possible that the best thing Iverson can do for the Pistons is stay right there on the bench? We'll have to wait and see.

Jeff Green

The other back in question involves Jeff Green. It was first reported that he was dealing with some pain on March 2nd. As of the 5th the plan was to wait at least a week before any plans for a comeback but again, we'll have to wait and see, as he hasn't been ruled out completely this weekend. One advantage that Green has over Iverson is his age. Iverson will turn 34 this summer while Green won't be 23 until August. A younger age is always a benefit when basketball players are dealing with injuries, most notably the knee and the back. At last report he was feeling great and hoping for an early return so I think you can be a little more optimistic about this one than Iverson, and expect this exciting young player will continue to put up big numbers for the Thunder.

Kevin Durant

And for that matter, despite a rather surprising win on Monday against the Mavs, one that seemed to send their controversial owner Mark Cuban over the hill, OK City is looking at another significant injury as well. Kevin Durant sprained his right ankle last Friday night against those same Mavs, a grade two sprain, and he's expected to be out around two weeks. That's usually the norm for a sprain of that variety. He's out of the walking boot he left the arena with last week, and he's been doing some shooting with the team the last few days so he's moving in the right direction. But he has yet to do any significant running or playing to this point so he still has a ways to go. Keep an eye on this as they are sure not to rush him back too soon.

Nate Robinson

A couple other ankles on the mend include the Knicks' Nate Robinson. He turned his left ankle February 28th and has yet to return. His is probably not the extent that Durant's is so he's considered day to day and will be a game time decision for Saturday's matchup against the Bobcats. Again, we'll have to wait and see, but for a team that seems eager to make a run at the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, they may want him back sooner rather than later.

Josh Howard

Josh Howard is still dealing with the left ankle sprain that has troubled him for a large part of the season. He was removed from that game Monday night against the Thunder after halftime. He returned and put up great numbers versus the Spurs two nights later, but then couldn't make it out of the locker room for the second half on Thursday night in a loss to the Hornets. Again, it's a bit confusing to me how a player can throw in 29 points in 39 minutes and then be more or less unavailable the next night. But that does tell me two things. One, the team is not that concerned that this injury will be a long term thing. If they were why would they even clear him to play in the back to back? And two, I would bet it's simply an issue of pain tolerance so Howard seems to be the one calling the shots. Does anyone remember Tracy McGrady? In either case, that might not be a good thing.

Luol Deng

Luol Deng's stress fracture that might not be a stress fracture is difficult to outline as well. This type of injury, which we have covered a few times the last couple weeks, was bothering Deng for a while before he was removed from a game last Saturday night when the pain became too much to bear. An x-ray revealed a stress fracture. That was followed by an MRI, which is usually the case, but that led to the diagnosis being changed to only a bruise. However, he was unable to play this week at all so another MRI and a CT scan were conducted later on which showed a stress fracture that could eventually lead to surgery. That's quite a discrepancy in a relatively short period of time so what does it tell us?

First off, MRI's are not 100% accurate and they never will be. They're good diagnostic tests but they still rely on experienced personnel to administer them and highly qualified medical professionals and doctors to interpret them. And even on their best day there can be some confusion. Second, Deng is clearly not happy and has requested a second opinion outside the organization to help clear things up. As of today, he is out of the lineup pending further evaluation. Optimistically, he'll start running again soon and will be back out there for the Bulls next week. But there is still the chance that he will have surgery to help promote healing of his tibia. Obviously there is more to come so will come back to this one.

Randy Foye

Another one we will have to go back to is the T-wolves Randy Foye. Foye injured his left hip the other day in practice and will miss at least 2 games this weekend. Apparently he crashed into teammate Kevin Love the other day prompting the time off but there hasn't been much else to pinpoint the injury. Hopefully we can take that as a positive sign but you never know so stay tuned for more updates when they are available.

Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 3/5/09