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NBA Injury Analysis: Varejao Out, Howard Back

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.

Anderson Varejao
The league's top rebounder will miss a significant portion of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn quadriceps muscle. The initial injury was diagnosed as a bruised right knee but the pain and symptoms persisted. A subsequent MRI was taken and evidence of the quad tear near the patella was visible.

Part of the reason for the delayed diagnosis was the manner in which the tear occurred. The tear is classified as a longitudinal tear, meaning it was in line with the orientation of the muscle fibers. Basically the muscle fibers of the quadriceps split. As the area heals, scar tissue fills the gap causing a decrease in the effected muscle's efficiency. However the developing scar tissue can serve as a good indicator for an injury usually difficult to find on an initial image. That's exactly what happened in Varejao's case with the most recent MRI revealing the injured tissue.

He underwent surgery to repair the tear and will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks. With the nature of the injury I'd expect him to sit through the All-Star break and it will be interesting to see how his value is gauged as the trade deadline approaches. NBA GMs and fantasy owners alike have to determine if Varejao's worth the associated risk.

I'd be hesitant to call Varejao injury prone despite the injuries woes that have plagued him over his career. He has endured a myriad of injuries since 2010 including a fractured cheekbone (2010), a torn tendon in his right ankle (2011), and fractured right wrist (2012) but each injury appears to be the result of an isolated incident. Yes his wild, frenzied style of play lends itself to injury but I'd consider the Brazilian center unlucky more than anything else. There's nothing in his past to suggest the injuries are linked or are the result of a muscle imbalance or biomechanical breakdown. If I were able to stash Varejao, particularly in rotisserie leagues, I'd kick the tires on a potential trade for the additional boost in rebounds when he is able to return.

Dwight Howard
Howard made a surprisingly early return Sunday after it was revealed earlier in the week that he had suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Howard attempted to downplay the injury saying just a small piece of the labrum was torn away from the bone and that consistent strengthening exercises and routine maintenance for pain and swelling would allow him to continue playing. He's right in the fact that he can play through the injury but keep it mine he does run a higher risk of reinjury and a more significant tear could be season ending.

The primary shoulder joint is the glenohumeral joint and is classified as a ball-and-socket joint. As the name suggest it resembles a golf ball sitting on a tee. The head of the upper arm serves as the ball and rests in the glenoid fossa of the scapula, which serves as the tee. The humerus can freely rotate on the glenoid fossa allowing for a large degree of motion at the shoulder. To insure the ball remains firmly on the tee, your body is equipped with the labrum, a ring of cartilage that deepens the cavity of the shoulder. Tears can develop in the rim following a collision or excessive, repetitive motion. Treatment for this injury is dependent on the severity and pattern of the tear and the amount of resulting instability. As previously mentioned Howard's tear sounds small and remains on the periphery. However if the shoulder is once again violently jarred, the tear could expand resulting in further instability and potentially surgery.

Keep Howard in your lineup, especially after his 22-point, 14-rebound performance Sunday against Cleveland. However understand he's not completely out of the woods yet and don't be surprised if Los Angeles elects to give him the occasional day off.

Fast Breaks

JJ Barea: Barea has been receiving treatment for a slightly herniated disc in his lower back. The injury is to the L5 disc and prevented him from playing two games last week. He returned to play Sunday against the Spurs following an injection in the area and is expected to play Monday against his former team when Minnesota travels to Dallas. The injection will help with inflammation and any associated pain and strengthening exercises will further help to stabilize the area. Still the injury won't quickly go away and should remain a factor moving forward.

Glen Davis: A dislocated and sprained left shoulder has caused Big Baby to miss Orlando's last 11 outings but the center was back at practice over the weekend and could be nearing a return. Davis has been a solid fantasy weapon and his return will be welcome to all but Nikola Vucevic owners as his astronomical rebounding numbers will likely take a slight hit.

Manu Ginobili: The Spurs guard did not play Sunday after straining his left hamstring against the Timberwolves. Ginobili has had problems with his left lower extremity throughout his career, missing time with a left groin strain, calf strain, and hamstring strain. Don't count on Manu playing much, if at all, this week. Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal will see extended minutes as a result.

Jordan Hill: A labrum tear in his hip, not his shoulder, is expected to end Hill's season. A MRI revealed the fraying and he will now meet with a specialist before undergoing season ending surgery. Earl Clark becomes an option in deeper leagues.

Serge Ibaka: Ibaka missed Sunday's game at Portland with a chest contusion. He suffered the injury Friday in a win over the Lakers. It does not appear to be serious but his status for Monday's game in Phoenix remains questionable.

Thabo Sefolosha: Sefolosha joined Ibaka on the sidelines with a sore neck. His status is also in doubt. DeAndre Liggings would continue to start in his absence to allow Kevin Martin to remain in his accustom sixth man role.

Gerald Wallace: X-rays taken on Wallace's ailing ribs did not reveal a fracture and the Nets are calling it a case of bruised ribs. Wallace did not play Sunday but could return Tuesday if the pain subsides.

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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