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NBA Injury Analysis: The King Escapes Injury

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.

LeBron James
Amidst one of the greatest seasons of all time, NBA fans worldwide held their breath as James awkwardly landed on his left leg in Sundayís win over the Knicks. The reigning MVP was attempting to finish an ally-oop pass when he bumped into Knicks defender JR Smith. James came down hard, with his left leg fully extended, and remained on the court for several minutes. He managed to remain in the game but was seen gingerly attempting to loosen the joint throughout the contest. He underwent further examination following the game and the Heat are so confident he avoided serious injury that they will forgo a MRI.

Many people often marvel at LeBronís physique and itís a huge factor as to why he has only missed 20 games due to injury in his entire NBA career. Balanced muscle tone in his lower extremities help James avoid knee and ankle injuries as the musculature is able to help stabilize the joint, relieving the amount of stress placed on and through the ligaments. His upper body is also better equipped than most to withstand and absorb the constant amount of contact he takes while driving to the basket. James isnít immune to injury and his current injury is worth monitoring for the near future but keep in mind his risk of injury remains low and he should be fine moving forward.

Tony Parker
The Spurs are expected to be without their point guard for a significant stretch after Parker sustained a Grade II sprain to his left ankle. The left ankle has been an issue for Parker throughout his career, dating back to the 2003-2004 season when he missed seven games after spraining the joint. He has since sprained the ankle a reported seven additional times, resulting in a total of 20 missed games. Included in these numbers is a Grade II sprain during the 2008-2009 season that cost him nine games. Clearly the ankle can be considered problematic and there a reasonable explanation why.

A sprain occurs when the ligaments are overstretched past their normal limitations. Each injury is graded on the amount of resulting damage. A Grade I sprain is considered minor with minimal swelling and microtearing occurring at the ligament. A Grade II sprain means the stress that resulted in the sprain was greater than the injured ligamentís yield point resulting in permanent deformation. Grade II sprains are often painful and have a considerable amount of associated swelling. They generally require a longer period of time to heal, as the partially torn ligament must mend. The body will be able to heal the ligament close to its original makeup but cannot completely undo the damage, forever altering the strength of the ligament.

The Spurs are estimating Parker will not return for at least a month. The guess seems reasonable given his history and San Antonioís propensity to protecting their veteran players. Look for Parker to return in time to shake off any accumulated rust in anticipation of the postseason. Unfortunately that could be too late for fantasy owners whose playoff schedule starts before then.

In the meantime it appears Gregg Popovich will utilize several different players to make up for the absence of Parker. Cory Joseph got the start at point guard but played just 18 minutes Sunday in a win over the Pistons.

Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap
Jefferson is dealing with a left ankle sprain of his own and is slated to miss his second consecutive game on Monday. The latest injury occurred in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday but he had previously sprained this ankle in late November. Jeffersonís right ankle has historically given him more problems but clearly the issue is serious enough to keep him sidelined.

A sprained left ankle is also limiting Jeffersonís frontcourt mate, as Millsap remains a question mark for the week ahead. Millsap suffered his sprain one game earlier than Jefferson and has been a spectator for Utahís last two outings. Millsap will be a game time decision Monday so keep a close eye on the situation. Nothing in Millsapís injury history indicates thereís more to this than it appears and I donít expect him to be sidelined for much longer, if at all.

Fast Breaks

Andrew Bynum: Another week lost and another setback for Bynum. He continues to have problems with his right knee and is contemplating an additional arthroscopic procedure. The joint continues to swell following activity and a return to the court seems more and more distant with each passing day. Fantasy owners who havenít abandoned hope should cut their losses and move on as the odds of Bynum seeing any meaningful action continue to decrease.

Anthony Davis: Davis will be back in uniform Monday as his injured shoulder was not a problem in morning shootaround. He had missed two straight games with what was initially thought to be sprained shoulder before further testing revealed a bone contusion. Get Davis back in your lineup but donít be surprised to see a decrease in rebounds and blocks as the shoulder may still limit him early on.

Rudy Gay: Gay will return to the lineup Monday after sitting the previous game with back spasms. This marks the second time this season Gay has been troubled by back spasms, though his first incident did not require him to miss any action. Hopefully the cause for the spasms is minor and will not be an issue moving forward.

Kyrie Irving: The Cavalier should get Irving back Monday after the All-Star guard missed the teamís last three games with a knee injury. Irving bumped knees with teammate Omri Casspi during practice, hyperextending his right knee.

Zach Randolph: Randolph received treatment for a sprained left ankle Monday but remains questionable for Wednesdayís outing against the Trail Blazers. Fortunately the additional time off does improve Randolphís chances of returning from his one- game hiatus.

Derrick Rose: Rose returned to the sideline for the first time since tearing his left ACL last April. However he was not in uniform and could not help his teammates secure a win against the Pacers. The Bulls insist that his presence wasnít an indication he will be back on the court soon. The team continues to play it safe with the former MVP and will not let him play until all involved parties are certain Rose is at 100 percent, both physically and mentally.

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