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NBA Injury Analysis: Does John Wall have an older man's knees?

John Wall
It appears the Wizards point guard is at long last showing signs of progress in his rehab for a stress reaction in his left knee and could be nearing a return. Wall has yet to play this season after a MRI in late September revealed the injury but a trip back into the MRI tube produced images revealing the injury is healing. The improvement made will allow Wall to increase his activity and the former number one overall pick hopes to return to practice soon, though the Wizards will not set a definitive timeline on his return.

It's also worth noting that during his most recent checkup Wall received the third and final shot in a series of injections. The injections given did not contain cortisone or another anti-inflammatory steroid but instead Synvisc, a synthetic lubricant. Synvisc is primarily used to treat individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, a condition that comes with age and general wear and tear. Given that Wall is a mere 22 years old, it's a safe assumption that age isn't the culprit in his case. Regardless of the reason, the Synvisc injections simulate fluid normally found within the joint and help cushion the area. They also help minimize friction so that the joint can operate in its normal range without causing pain and inflammation. Several NBA players have used Synvisc, most notably Andrew Bynum, and have had success. However it could be an early indicator that his long-term health may not be as great as others.

Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry
The Raptors put together back-to-back wins despite the absence of two of their top players. Bargnani will be out indefinitely after suffering a sprained elbow and a strained wrist on his right arm. The primary concern is the elbow sprain which appears to be significant. Any serious tear to the surrounding ligaments would compromise the integrity of the joint. Any elbow instability would directly affect his shooting mechanics, which would be a big limitation for a player as dependent on his jumper as Bargnani. The team is said to be monitoring the situation on a week-to-week basis and given the severity of the injury except the Italian forward to be out for a substantial amount of time. Even when he does return, he will need more time than normal to rediscover his stroke and shake off any rust that may have developed.

Lowry also has elbow concerns as he deals with a partially torn triceps muscle. The triceps muscle is located on the posterior aspect of the arm and originates in the shoulder. It runs the length of the upper arm before inserting on a bony process of the elbow known as the olecranon. It is responsible for straightening (extending) the elbow while also aiding in shoulder extension. A tear of this muscle would cause a limitation in these movements and, like Bargnani's injury, limit his ability to shoot. It could also become an issue while passing the ball, further limiting a point guard like Lowry. He's expected to miss at least 10 days and shouldn't be utilized this week. Jose Calderon has filled in nicely, picking up a triple-double in Toronto's win over Houston on Sunday.

Kyrie Irving
To say Irving can't catch a break would be a literal understatement. In his second game back after missing nearly a month with a broken left index finger, Irving suffered a facial fracture in a loss to the Bucks. A CT scan taken after the game confirmed he broke the maxilla bone on the left side of his face. The maxilla bones make up the upper portion of the jaw and fuses with the zygomatic bone to create the cheek. The injury may sound horrific but Irving avoided serious injury as the orbit surrounding his eye remained intact. He was fitted for a protective mask and will be allowed to play. His first performance in the Batman-like mask was impressive as he scored a career-best 41 points against the Knicks. Keep Irving in your lineup and except him to shed the mask when the injury completely heals.

Patrick Patterson
The Rockets will be without Patterson for a while after a MRI on his injured right foot revealed a bone bruise. A bone bruise in the foot would severely limit a player's mobility, especially a bigger player like Patterson. The injury may come as a disappointment but could help explain his recent stretch of poor performances. After an eight-game stretch in which he averaged 18.4 points, Patterson has failed to score in double-digits in three of the six games he's played. The Rockets have not revealed when the injury first began bothering the third-year forward but I would expect it would be sometime during this run of ineffective production.

Fast Breaks

LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge is slated for a MRI on his sprained left ankle. He suffered the injury in Sunday's game and left the arena on crutches. He seems poised to miss at least a few games but it's all dependent on the MRI results.

Pau Gasol: Gasol is expected back at practice Monday and hopes to rejoin the starting lineup Tuesday when the Lakers host the Bobcats. Gasol's presence could be a big lift for Los Angeles but understand the patellar tendonitis in both knees could easily flare up if the root of the problem was not addressed.

Jrue Holiday: Holiday's sprained left foot continues to be an issue but he's hoping to return Tuesday against the Mavericks. He has been inactive for Philadelphia's last two games with the streaky Nick Young replacing him in the starting lineup. He remains day-to-day.

Kevin Love: Love will be back in the lineup Monday after missing one game with the flu. He's also dealing with a bruised thumb on the same hand that he fractured during the preseason. Love has struggled with his shot to start the season and another injury to his still healing hand won't help the situation. You have to start him but understand his productivity may be lower than we are accustomed to seeing.

Ricky Rubio: Rubio returned over the weekend for the first time since tearing his ACL. He wore a padded sleeve on his left knee and will continue to do so for the immediate future. The Wolves are also planning on resting him on the second night of back-to-backs to insure they don't push the envelope earlier in his return.

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