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NBA Injury Analysis: NBA Injury Updates

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.

Manu Ginobili
The Spurs will be without their leading scorer for at least six weeks after he broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand and needed surgery to stabilize the fracture. The two-time All-Star suffered the injury while trying to swipe the ball away from Minnesota' Anthony Tolliver. He underwent surgery Thursday and had a plate and screw inserted at the injury site.

The metacarpal bones are positioned between the tiny carpal bones of the wrist and the long, proximal phalanges of the fingers. The metacarpals make up the hand and serves as an attachment site for multiple muscles. They are vulnerable to breaking in a variety of ways and, like in the case of Ginobili, often require surgery to insure the bone heals properly.

Unfortunately for Spurs fans and Ginobili owners, the pinkie and its metacarpal are the second most important functional digit, after the thumb. The metacarpals of the thumb and pinkie help stabilize the hand, create concavity in the palm, and play an important role in grip. To make matters worse, Ginobili is left-handed and this injury will directly affect his shooting mechanics. The team hopes he can return in six weeks but don't be surprised if the timeline is lengthened. NBA players with similar injuries have needed closer to eight weeks to return including last season when Chicago's Carlos Boozer was sidelined for two months following surgery.

The Spurs system will allow a committee of players to assume Ginobili's responsibilities. James Anderson got the first crack at the rotation while second-year standout Gary Neal started against the Mavericks. Neal looks like the more relevant fantasy option after he connected on four three-pointers in the rout of Dallas. Richard Jefferson should also see a slight increase in minutes.

Zach Randolph
The team that ousted Ginobili's Spurs from last year's playoffs will also be without one of its top players after Randolph suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. The Grizzlies initially ruled the injury a knee contusion but a MRI revealed the tear.

As we discussed last week with Iman Shumpert, the MCL is crucial in maintaining knee stability during lateral or side-to-side movement. Unlike the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the MCL does not need surgical intervention to heal. However Randolph's past makes the situation a little murkier. Following the 2004-2005 season, Randolph underwent microfracture surgery on this same knee to help manage a cartilage injury. The recent injury could cause problems to this area because the MCL has ligaments fibers attached to the medial meniscus. There's no guarantee it will happen and the athletic training staff in Memphis will do everything possible to not only minimize the associated inflammation in the joint but also limit the stress placed on the area.

He's expected to miss up to eight weeks but it would not be wise to assume he will immediately return to form once healthy. His conditioning will be affected and for a player of Randolph's size, that can be a problem. Furthermore his track record following serious injury doesn't exactly instill confidence. He struggled in his season after the microfracture procedure, particularly in the rebounding department.

The Grizzlies will utilize Dante Cunningham and the recently acquired Marreese Speights to fill the power forward spot but neither are expected to make much of a fantasy impact. Instead current starters Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol will be asked to shoulder more of a load on both ends of the court.

Last week I looked at the specifics surrounding the heel contusion of Celtics forward Paul Pierce. I noted that if a bone is bruised, it's vulnerable to aggravation and can take a prolonged time to heal. The body treats this injury like a fracture and must lay down new, healthy bone tissue to complete the healing process. Heel bruises are extremely vulnerable due their location and even more troublesome for big men. Needless to say it's disconcerting to hear Nene describe his heel bruise as a sharp, deep pain. The power forward with an injury-riddled past did not play Wednesday and remains a question mark for the weekend. Don't be surprised if the Nuggets elect to rest Nene through the week in hopes he can play in their four-game home stand starting Monday against the Hornets.

Fast Breaks

Ray Allen: Allen was a spectator for Wednesday's win over the Nets and remains a game-time decision for Friday's contest against the Pacers. He is currently battling an illness causing flu-like symptoms.

Eric Gordon: Gordon will miss the next few weeks on the advice of doctors. Gordon is nursing a knee contusion that continues to cause swelling in the joint. I hinted last week that the injury could be problematic and shouldn't be taken likely. Marco Belinelli is worth a look in deeper leagues but his poor shooting diminishes his value.

Jason Kidd: The 38-year old point guard was an early exit from Dallas' loss to San Antonio with a lower back injury. The grind of a condensed schedule could be playing a factor here. If he is forced to miss time, expect Delonte West and Rodrigue Beaubois to split time at the point guard position.

Derrick Rose: Rose will not miss time with an elbow injury sustained in a fall against the Pistons. X-rays were negative and Rose was a full participant in shootaround.

Dwyane Wade and Lebron James: Two of the Big Three were in suits for Miami's triple-overtime win over the Hawks. Wade (bruised foot) and James (sprained ankle) could also sit for Saturday's game against the hapless Nets to allow for five consecutive days of rest. Neither injury appears serious but Wade's is the more significant of the two.

Deron Williams: The Nets will have their starting point guard back in uniform Friday after bruised ribs caused him to miss a game against the Celtics earlier in the week. Get him back in your lineup but expect a dip in production. Ribs can be a painful injury to deal with and a point guard like Williams is particularly susceptible to reinjury.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.