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NBA Injury Analysis: The Nuggets Can't Catch a Break

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.

Denver Nuggets
The depth of the Nuggets is being tested as two members of the team are out with significant injuries and third is playing in pain. Forward Danilo Gallinari suffered a fractured left thumb in a loss to the Mavericks while teammate Rudy Fernandez aggravated a back injury that will require season-ending surgery. Veteran point guard Andre Miller also was injured in the game against Dallas, suffering a separated shoulder.

Let's start by looking at Gallinari since he holds the most fantasy value. The injury occurred when Gallinari hit his hand on the backboard attempting to block a shot. X-rays revealed the break and doctors expect him to miss up to four weeks as the bone heals. Bone heals in a unique way as specialized cell lay down new bone tissue to rejoin the broken pieces. The first two weeks are key as the initial steps of the healing process insure the bone heals in proper alignment. Surgery can be needed to aid this progression but it appears Gallinari is going to avoid going under the knife. If enough bone matrix is filled in, the Nuggets could welcome him back before the four-week mark especially since the injury is to his non-shooting hand. However it is likely the bone's strength would be less than 100 percent. Anticipate Gallinari missing at least three weeks with the established timeline of four weeks a more probable scenario.

With Gallinari shelved and Fernandez out for the remainder of the season, Denver will turn to a fresh but familiar face in Wilson Chandler. Chandler has rejoined the Nuggets signing a five-year deal after playing out his contract with Zhejiang Guangsha of the Chinese Basketball Association. He started in Gallinari's place against the Pistons on Wednesday and is averaging 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks in his two games back with the team. He'll get a healthy dose of minutes with Fernandez and Gallinari down and could be a sneaky addition just in time for the fantasy playoffs.

Miller refused to miss a game due to injury and played through the pain of his shoulder injury. The team is calling the injury a separated shoulder, which is often indicative of an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain. . The AC joint is located where the clavicle (collarbone) connects to a bony process on the shoulder blade known as the acromion. It acts as a strut, allowing the arm to be raised overhead. The area is stabilized by the acromioclavicular (AC) and coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments, and is vulnerable to injury when the tip of the acromion is forcibly pushed downward. The injury Miller sustained was likely a Grade I sprain, meaning the ligaments were overstretched but actual tearing was minimal. Miller will play wearing a protective sleeve but don't be surprised if his numbers take a hit while the shoulder remains painful and limited.

Derrick Rose
The reigning MVP has missed 15 games in this shortened season and is expected to miss even more time has he continues to have trouble with a nagging groin strain. A groin injury is common in basketball because of the high amounts of lateral movements involved in the game. The groin is group of muscles known in the medical world as the adductors. Adduction occurs when the leg is pulled inward toward the midline of the body. An injury to one of the muscles weakens and limits this ability, directly effecting lateral movement in an individual. A limitation here is particularly problematic for Rose as the majority of his game is based on his ability to blow past defenders and attack the rim.

It's never a good thing to hear a player is more week-to-week than day-to-day but Rose owners will have to grit their teeth and bear it for the immediate future. CJ Watson and John Lucas will continue to fill in for Rose.

Fast Breaks

Andrew Bogut: Those fantasy owners stashing Bogut in hopes of utilizing the big man's talents come playoff time can officially look elsewhere. The Warriors will not activate Bogut this season giving their recently-acquired center the remainder of the season off to protect his still-healing fractured ankle. The injury occurred January 25 while he was a member of the Bucks. The Australian center is also considering sitting out this summer's Olympic games.

LeBron James: A nasty collision with Phoenix veteran Grant Hill left the former two-time MVP a bit shaken. He injured his elbow, striking his ulnar nerve (what you know better as the funny bone) in the fall and also experienced a headache after the game. While James joked after the game that he was "too tough" to sustain a concussion, the situation is no laughing matter and should be handled with care. If James experienced any concussion-like symptoms he should and would be placed in the NBA's concussion program. James has already stated he has improved and intends to play Friday but keep a close eye on this situation.

Shawn Marion: A sore left knee has kept Marion from the lineup for three straight games but a detailed exam by team physicians revealed no structural damage. It seems likely the injury is overuse related as injuries to other teammates forced Marion to increase his workload during a brutal stretch of games for Dallas. The team is hoping to have Marion back in uniform on Friday when they take on the rival Spurs. Fantasy owners may want to look elsewhere for the time being as Marion is averaging just 8.9 points on 40.2 percent shooting since the All-Star break.

Kevin Martin: A MRI taken Monday revealed a tear in the labrum of Martin's right shoulder. The tear itself was a preexisting injury that was aggravated in early February. Though the team insists he is day-to-day this is significant injury news. Labral tears affect the stability of the shoulder and can be extremely painful. A torn labrum has sidelined names such as Dwyane Wade, Jameer Nelson, and Elton Brand. If I'm a Martin owner, I'm putting serious consideration in dropping him and picking up someone else, especially if you haven't locked up a playoff spot and need the stats.

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