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NBA Injury Analysis: Nash, Wall, Nowitzki, Stoudemire

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.

Nearly a quarter of the NBA season is in the books and we've seen Steve Nash, John Wall, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar'e Stoudemire, Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Bynum, and Eric Gordon play a combined game and a half. For fantasy owners hoping for a boost from each of these players, let's take a look at their particular situations.

Steve Nash
The Lakers point guard is the only player on the aforementioned list to take the court this year even if it was short-lived. Nash suffered a fractured fibula in the second game of the year and has missed the last 19 games. He has been performing agility drills and been allowed to do some ball work but has not been cleared for running. Running remains the critical next step to insure the broken bone is ready to withstand the rigors of playing basketball. The fibula isn't necessarily a primary weight bearing bone with several studies indicating the amount of stress placed on the bone can be as little as 6 percent. However, the amount of stress fluctuates during certain movement, particularly lateral and posterior movements.

Nash is dependent on his ability to push the tempo and a less than 100 percent fibula could cause problems in the leg and knee as well. Nash isn't likely to play on the team's current four-game and a return to the court will not happen until he's cleared to run. Nash owners should look elsewhere in weekly leagues and cross their fingers that progress is made in rehab.

John Wall
The Wizards are unsure when Wall will join the Washington lineup as he continues to recover from a stress reaction in his left patella. Like Nash, Wall remains limited in his activity and has not been cleared to run and jump, let alone practice. The primary concern is preventing the stress reaction from developing into a true fracture. If a stress fracture in the patella occurred, the remainder of Wall's season could be in jeopardy. Instead the Wizards will give him a much time as needed to insure that doesn't happen, closely monitoring his workload. The team initially hoped he would miss a maximum of 12 weeks. The injury occurred a little over 10 weeks ago, meaning he still has two weeks to reach those numbers. However nothing up to this point implies him reaching those goals and I think there's a good chance he's out until late-December or early-January.

Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki is another player that is healing much slower than anticipated. When he underwent surgery in October there was some belief that the normal fast-healing
Nowitzki would be back by now. However the knee is a different monster than the numerous ankle sprains Dirk has overcome and the swelling in the knee persisted longer than expected. He has begun traveling with the team and recently returned to running and shooting. His rehab is focused on regaining the strength in his atrophied quadriceps muscle and he hopes to begin more rigorous court work soon. Nowitzki will need a few more weeks before he's ready for games but progress is being made.

Amar'e Stoudemire
Stoudemire's situation nearly parallels Nowitzki's rehab. An arthroscopic procedure known as a debridement was needed prior to the start of the season to help clean up the forward's left knee. The Knicks were initially hoping for a mid-December return and while Stoudemire is shooting and lightly jogging, no firm return date has been set. The primary difference between Nowitzki and Stoudemire remains the lengthy history of problems the Knicks forward has with the effected joint. While Dirk's surgery was the first of his career, Stoudemire has had multiple procedures performed including microfracture surgery. Because of his previous problems Stoudemire will be a bigger risk moving forward. More question marks are raised as to where STAT will fit in with the surging New York squad, leaving owners invested in Stoudemire in a precarious position. A Christmas Day return has been rumored but don't be shocked if that timeline is adjusted to buy him more time.

Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose
Both point guards continue to rehab from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. Rubio suffered his injury on March 9 and recently returned to practice. He has a legitimate chance to return Wednesday when the Timberwolves take on the Nuggets. However give him a few games to find his bearing before you confidently employ him.

Rose's injury occurred nearly two months later than Rubio's but like his counterpart, remains on track in his recovery. The former MVP is running and cutting on his surgically repaired knee but has not returned to practice. A return before the All-Star Break remains possible but unlikely. The Bulls have been wisely conservative with Rose and won't rush him back. Fantasy owners waiting on Rose should begin cheering for the Bulls so that Chicago feels the season is worth activating the face of their franchise when he is finally able to play.

Andrew Bynum and Eric Gordon
Both Bynum and Gordon are out with knee ailments that do not appear to be improving. Bynum is dealing with bone contusions in both knees and has been sidelined indefinitely. The Hornets have been less forth coming with information surrounding Gordon, calling his knee issue "soreness". Neither player appears close to practicing and any hope of fantasy productivity seems ages away from occurring. It may be time for fantasy owners to move on and try to salvage what could be a wasted pick.


Trevor Ariza and AJ Price: The banged up Wizards took yet another hit as a significant calf strain is expected to sideline Ariza for at least three weeks while a fractured hand will keep Price out for at least a month.
Chauncey Billups: Billups remains sidelined with peroneal tendinitis in his left ankle. The injury does not appear to be linked to his Achilles injury but will cause the point guard to miss time.

Anthony Davis: The Brow is eyeballing a return to the Hornets lineup next week as the stress reaction in his ankle continues to improve.

Tyreke Evans: A MRI revealed no structural damage in Evans balky left knee but the soreness and stiffness remains. The injury occurred following a collision with Minnesota's Andrei Kirilenko and could cost him a few more games if the inflammation persists.

Kyrie Irving: Irving will participate in practice Monday and, if all goes well, could return to action Tuesday against the Lakers. However the team hinted a few days ago that he remains a week or two away so watch for an update from Monday's practice before you reinsert him into your lineups. The reigning Rookie of the Year suffered a broken index finger 10 games ago.

Al Jefferson: Jefferson is back after missing a lone games with back spasms. The team played Sunday against the Lakers but is off until Wednesday giving him extra time to recover.

Chris Kaman: A sprained left ankle is bothering the Dallas center but has yet to cost him a game. He played 19 minutes Saturday after aggravating the sprain he suffered Thursday. Keep playing him if you own him but expect a dip in minutes for the immediate future.

Shawn Marion: Kaman's teammate wasn't as lucky as a strained groin kept Marion out of Dallas' win over Houston on Saturday. Marion remains a question mark for this week and seems poised to miss at least one more outing.

Wesley Matthews: Matthews will be a game-time decision Monday against Toronto after suffering a left hip flexor strain and a left hip contusion. Matthews' account of the injury suggested it was serious, but he appeared to be an active participant in Portland's practice on Sunday indicating it's not as bad as he feared.

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

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