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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

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

This week's report should be a welcome change of pace for fantasy owners -- there aren't a lot of new ones to digest, mostly updates.

Marvin Williams

One if the new entries on the list is the Hawks' Marvin Williams. Williams had his back lock up on him during a game last Saturday night versus the Pistons and hasn't played since. He didn't indicate a specific mechanism of injury, more that it came out of nowhere, so the diagnosis is vague at this point. But he's going to see a specialist this week so he should have a better idea of the severity by Friday or Saturday.

Sometimes lower back injuries are really no big deal. Despite what can be crippling pain they are no different than your average muscle strain or spasm. But some reports out of Atlanta indicate that surgery is already being discussed so this could very well involve a disk or one of the verterbrae in his back and that can be a much bigger issue. If that's the case than we've seen the last of him this spring no matter how far the team goes in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If not, a couple weeks of rest and rehab could get back in time for the post season, but as is often the case, time will tell.

Peja Stojakovic

Peja Stojakovic also missed some time recently with his own back pain, and his history is not good. He missed most of the '06 season with back issues eventually shutting it down to have surgery. He made it back last season and put up great numbers in the process but is experiencing pain again. Most reports detail only spasms and as we have said many times, spasms are what they are. They can be extremely painful. And it's very difficult to predict when they will improve... many times disappearing as quickly they arrive. But spasms are also used very often to mask much bigger problems in player's backs so we will have to wait and see. Could he have aggravated the same area he had fixed a couple years ago? Sure, but optimistically the Hornets seem to be treating this day to day, a couple times expecting him to return, only to give it another day or two. I wouldn't expect that to change much the rest of the regular season so beware of big expectations.

Randy Foye

And once again we are reminded how prevalent sprained ankles are in the NBA. The most recent player dealing with this injury is T-wolves guard Randy Foye. He turned it on Monday night as so many of them do, inverting the ankle while coming down from a jump. He spent the next few days in a walking boot, missing Wednesday's contest, but apparently has his sights set on returning to the lineup Friday the 13th versus the Knicks. Now it's hard to say what the severity of this injury is... rarely would you expect a player to come back from injury on the first night of a back to back, but you never know. Consider the Knicks game extremely optimistic, Saturday's game versus Charlotte a little less so, but still on the bright side. And don't be surprised if this keeps him on the shelf a little longer than originally reported. Usually the norm when tracking even the most minor ankle sprain is one to two weeks.


As for those updates, we'll start with Josh Howard. He's seeing another specialist this week for the recurring problems he's had with his left ankle since mid-November. At this point who knows when he'll suit up again for the Mavs. This one I'm sure has been extremely frustrating for owners out there because he's shown flashes of being the consistent double double threat we all think he should be, but he's also favored it so much at times that his play has been at best erratic. Simply put, it's hard to know what to expect from him at this point. Hopefully his next series of exams will shed some more light on the prognosis from here on out. If not, unfortunately you're going to have to wait it out and hope for the best.

Kevin Durant, on the other hand, should be nearing a return from the sprained right ankle he suffered February 27th. If he's able to suit up for the Thunder this Saturday, he would make it back right on that two week estimate we usually deal with. If not it should come within the next week

His teammate Jeff Green returned from a four game absence due to back pain, playing both ends of a back to back set this week, including a game high 22 points in 35 minutes of action on Tuesday. He was wrapped in ice afterwards but simply the fact that he made it through both games is very encouraging. Hopefully he'll only get better at this point.

Another pair of teammates, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, should be making comebacks relatively soon. Rondo is also dealing with an ankle sprain, one that has kept him out of action since the Celts game against the Cavs last Friday night. He left the game in the second quarter with the injury, and made it back out on the floor later in the game, only to sit out everything since. According to reports, he's out for Friday's matchup with the Grizzlies, but is questionable for Sunday's game in Milwaukee. Basically this comes down to a day to day thing, and proves once again, that even the most trivial ankle sprains can be problematic. And they're also dependant on the team that these players suit up for and the point of the season these injuries occur. In other words, if this was the NBA Finals, you can bet Rondo would be playing.

I'm sure the same can be said for KG. He started running on a treadmill this week and reported feeling great so you can bet he's on track to return soon. Coach Doc Rivers feels next weekend against the Spurs or the Grizzlies is a safe bet and that sounds appropriate.

Manu Ginobili is still at least a week away as well. He's rehabbing a stress reaction in his right tibia. He's been able to shoot and run on a treadmill but he hasn't done any significant sprinting or jumping so he still has some work to do. If there aren't any setbacks when he does get involved with practice than figure a week or two and he should be back for the Spurs. You'll probably see limited minutes from him in the beginning, but assuming all goes well, he should be fine by the playoffs.

Finally Greg Oden has improved to the point he's performing some basketball specific activities like shooting and low impact post moves, but he still could be a couple weeks away. It's easy for some to question his desire and pain tolerance with his history the last couple years but understand that these are some pretty significant injuries he's had to deal with. The latest, a chip fracture in his patella can be extremely painful and limiting to an athlete, especially a basketball player who needs to run and jump for 30 to 40 minutes a night, and bang up against some rather big men along the way. Despite all that he apparently had a great workout with his teams' medical staff on March 11th, and although he remains out for Friday's game versus the Nets, he will travel with the Blazers for their upcoming five game road trip starting Sunday night in Atlanta. In a perfect world he'll be back in uniform before the team returns home for the Sixers on March 23rd.

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

Article first appeared on 3/13/09