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NBA Injury Analysis: Preseason Checkup 1

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.

Kobe Bryant
The focus on Bryant's recovery has obviously been on his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. However, he made headlines last week when he traveled to Germany for his second Orthokine treatment on his right knee. Orthokine is a technique that uses similar principles to a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection. Orthokine, or Regenokine, utilizes the athlete's own blood and proteins to create a more suitable environment for healing. Basically, a personal anti-inflammatory drug is created from the player's own blood. The procedure does not require an extended period of recovery and can be performed annually. However, the FDA has not approved Orthokine in the US, thus Kobe's trip overseas.

His trip to Germany does suggest that Bryant expects to be playing at a high level this year and wants his chronically ailing knee to be ready. The rehabilitation he has been undergoing for his left Achilles may have caused his right leg to be overworked and a "tune-up" was required to insure it isn't a problem moving forward. The Lakers have yet to establish a firm timetable as to when the former MVP will be back, but rest assured Bryant is preparing to return and remain in the lineup for the long haul. He's no longer the first round selection he used to be, but he could be a productive fantasy player if available at a nice reduced price.

CJ McCollum
The Trail Blazers will be without their top draft pick for an indefinite amount of time after McCollum suffered a fractured 5th metatarsal in his left foot. This is the second time since January that McCollum has sustained this type of injury. He previously broke the bone while a senior at LeHigh and underwent surgery to repair the damage. He missed the final 19 games of the season but was still selected by the Blazers with the 10th overall pick.

On draft night I warned there was a high degree of risk associated with the injury and McCollum would need to be carefully handled. The metatarsals are the long bones within the foot that bridge the bones of the midfoot and the bones of the toes. The fifth metatarsal is situated on the outside of the foot and serves as an attachment site for several muscles. These muscles make the bone susceptible to fractures when the ankle is forced inward, like when landing on another player's foot.

In this type of injury, recovery and treatment is dependent on the location of the break. The most serious of the fractures is the Jones fracture, which occurs when the break is located near the base of the bone. The blood flow to this area is very poor, and this fracture takes a prolonged period to heal and often requires surgery to mend. Individuals who suffer Jones fractures can experience a delayed union or nonunion of the bone, meaning the two bone pieces require a longer period of time to connect or in some cases do not unite at all.

Regardless of location, the inherent risk of re-injury remains high until the bony union is 100 percent, and even then, there is the risk of hardware failure. Brooklyn's Brook Lopez and Orlando's Glen Davis are just two recent examples of players that would need additional foot surgery following hardware problems.

Portland has yet to release the location of McCollum's recent injury but have stated it will require surgery to fix. The injury is a significant setback for McCollum who averaged 21 points at the Las Vegas Summer League. Veterans Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews will see an increase in their responsibilities.

It's also worth mentioning that the Blazers spent the offseason revamping their medical staff. The team had struggled to stay healthy, finishing next to last in the league in games missed due to injury over the past five seasons. Dr. Christopher Stackpole was hired as Director Of Player Health And Performance, and former assistant athletic trainer Geoff Clark replaced long-time athletic trainer Jay Jensen. The new staff already has its hands full with this latest setback and LaMarcus Aldridge's minor quadriceps strain.

Derrick Rose
After missing all of last season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the Bulls' explosive point guard returned to action Saturday. Rose scored 13 points in 20 minutes and reported no soreness following the game. The lack of soreness and swelling is a good indicator that the knee is healthy. Ligmentization of the graft has likely occurred, meaning the repaired ligament shares the same biomechanical properties of a healthy ACL. He may have been scrutinized at times last year, but Rose looks ready to rebound from his injury without the worries associated with a rushed rehab. Consider him a top-15 fantasy option for the upcoming season.

Fast Breaks

Jose Calderon: The veteran point guard will miss multiple preseason games for Dallas after sustaining a mild left hamstring strain. After an extended run with the Spanish National Team in the EuroBasket tournament, the Mavs are handling Calderon conservatively. He will likely be ready for opening night but may need some additional time to jell with his new teammates.

Tyreke Evans: Evans sustained a left ankle sprain in his Pelicans preseason debut. He does have a history of left ankle and foot problems meaning his recovery could take a bit longer than most.

Jason Terry: The JET has returned to contact portions of practice after missing time in the earlier stages of camp recovering from offseason knee surgery. The arthroscopic procedure was done to remove a plica band. Plica are remnants of a synovial membrane present in the fetal development of the knee. They most often reduce in size during development but occasionally they fail to shrink, resulting in protruding folds. Individuals with plica problems are prone to knee inflammation and often complain of a catching sensation that can gradually be worked through. Terry should be fine moving forward and will once again assume second-unit scoring duties.

Deron Williams: Williams has also been limited in training camp, nursing a sprained right ankle and bone contusion. Preseason ankle sprains generally aren't cause for concern, but given D-Will's history, there's reason for some alarm. Last year he needed PRP injections and cortisone injections in both ankles and struggled at various points throughout the season. He's still a top-5 point guard, but he's one of the riskier investments in that top tier.