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NBA Injury Analysis: The Brow on the Bench

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.

Anthony Davis
The number one overall pick remains sidelined with an ankle injury that could be a big problem for New Orleans. Davis suffered a left ankle sprain while working with team USA over the summer and reinjured the ankle on November 17. After he tweaked the ankle several times during his attempts to return, a precautionary MRI was carried out. The images revealed a stress reaction in the ankle and now the Hornets are expecting him to miss at least a week, if not two, recovering. A conservative approach with this type of injury is completely understandable. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture; meaning if the injury goes untreated a crack in the bone can develop. Ankle and foot problems for big men are particularly problematic and have ended the careers of several notable players, including eight-time All-Star Yao Ming. Washington's John Wall is also dealing with a stress reaction, but his is located in his knee not his ankle. Wall has yet to play a game this season while recovering.

The Hornets will give Davis has much time as necessary to allow the reaction to heal and will continue to limit his weight-bearing activity. He is currently walking with a protective boot as a precautionary measure. Two weeks seems like a reasonable length of recovery but don't be shocked if the timeline is adjusted as the team gets a better idea of Davis' rate of healing. In the meantime Ryan Anderson has joined the starting lineup while Robin Lopez remains the starting center. Lopez has been a good source of blocks this season and deserves a roster spot in all formats.

Pau Gasol
While Steve Nash and his slow-to-heal broken leg remain the primary injury concern for the Lakers, Gasol is also spending some extra time in the athletic training room. Gasol has begun receiving treatment for patellar tendinitis in both of his knees. Patellar tendinitis is a manageable ailment that occurs when the tendon of the quadriceps muscle group becomes inflamed. The inflammation can cause pain and limitations in the knee, hampering the effected individual's ability to run and jump. It is a common injury in basketball and one that Gasol should be able to continue to play through. He's currently wearing patellar straps to help. The straps work by altering the angle and length of the patellar tendon, reducing the strain on the area. However the straps are not considered a treatment or cure. The root of the inflammation must be determined and treated before Gasol can move past this current inconvenience. Fantasy owners should expect Gasol to remain in the lineup but also anticipate a decrease in productivity.

The Wizards welcomed Nene back into the lineup after the rugged center had been a spectator for the team's first nine games. Nene is playing through a bad case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot that began to bother him last year. The plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissue that provides supports for the arch of the foot. It is thick and durable and designed to withstand the increased forces that come with weight-bearing activities like walking, jumping, or running. However excessive force or repetitive activity can cause the plantar fascia to become inflamed, resulting in plantar fasciitis. The issue is worsened if the fascia tears.

Unfortunately there is no real cure for the condition and athletes dealing with the issue are prone to flare ups. Nene's availability moving forward depends on pain management and routine maintenance to minimize the inflammation. Fantasy owners should play Nene when he is in the lineup but understand he could easily miss a game or two, if not more, if the foot begins hurting again. He's looked solid in his first two games back, averaging 15.5 points on 56 percent shooting. His conditioning needs to improve but that's not surprising for a guy who hasn't played basketball in three months. Enjoy his contributions when they're there but have a contingency plan ready just in case.

Fast Breaks
LaMarcus Aldridge: After sitting out Sunday's loss at Brooklyn, Aldridge is hoping to play Monday when the team travels to Detroit. The All-Star forward has been dealing with a stiff lower back that is also spasming. Treating the problem causing the spasm has become the focus of the Portland medical staff and he should be able to play. However the team is in the middle of a seven-game road trip and the travel could make treatment slightly more difficult.

Andrew Bogut: Bogut's return is on the horizon with the Aussie center hoping to play Saturday against the Pacers. The Warriors shut him down after he limped through four of the team's first five outings. The extended rest and extra rehab time focused on strengthening the musculature surrounding the surgically repaired joint. Give him time to shake off any rust before utilizing him again and expect the Warriors to limit his minutes early on.

Andrew Bynum: To no surprise, the Sixers have shelved Bynum indefinitely. Bynum is dealing with pain and swelling in both knees and will not return to action until the issue is resolved. He has yet to play for Philadelphia since arriving in the offseason.

Brandon Jennings: The Bucks have listed Jennings as questionable for Monday's game against the Bulls after he suffered a left ankle sprain in the team's last game. Playing him this week would be a calculated gamble but since Jennings is downplaying the injury and Milwaukee is slated to play four games this week, it's a risk worth taking.

OJ Mayo: The leading scorer for the Mavericks turned an ankle in practice over the weekend but should be fine for the upcoming week. Dallas is off until Tuesday, which should provide Mayo plenty of time to rest and recover.

Dirk Nowitzki: Nowitzki met with the media early last week to address his rehabilitation from arthroscopic knee surgery. The former MVP believes he is roughly a week or two away from returning to the court but went on to say he will need additional time before he is game ready. Fantasy owners should look for Nowitzki to return sometime in mid-December.

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