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NBA Injury Analysis: Preseason Checkup 3

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.

Andrew Bogut
The Warriors are counting on Bogut to appear in more than 32 games this season, but a lower back injury is already a cause for concern. The Australian center made a quick departure from the teamís preseason win over the Lakers after developing back spasms. Back spasms are often the result of some underlying issue and can be extremely difficult to manage. Pain following injury causes the muscles of the back to tighten and go into spasm. Spasms increase the pain, resulting in more tension, which leads to more pain. This nasty pain-spasm cycle must be interrupted, and the root of the problem must be addressed before a player can return to activity without the fear of the spasms returning. It appears Bogutís issues are linked to a mild lower back strain and not the previous disc protrusion he dealt with last season. However, it would still be wise to proceed with caution here, as this isnít the only back injury in Bogutís past. Back-related injuries have cost Bogut a total of 55 games throughout his eight-year career, including a stress fracture in his lumbar vertebrae that sidelined him for 31 games during the 08-09 season. While he has returned to practice, Bogut remains one of the higher-risk players entering the year.

Danny Granger
Like Bogut, Granger is hoping to have a bounce-back season after missing the majority of last year managing injuries. Granger played in just five games while dealing with chronic tendinosis in his left knee in the 2012-13 season. He underwent surgery this offseason to help alleviate the issue and was back in action for the start of camp. However, another issue has popped up twice over the last week as the former All-Star has been dealing with a strain to his left calf.

The calf is a muscle complex comprised of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Its primarily responsibility is pointing the toes at the ankle joint in a direction known as plantar flexion. Fluid plantar flexion is essential for running and jumping. However, the calf also crosses the knee and aids the hamstrings in bending or flexing the knee. As a result calf strains can impact two joints and increases the risk of muscle imbalances. For example, a weakened calf would force the hamstrings to become overworked, making those muscles more susceptible to strains. For a player like Granger that has managed chronic left knee inflammation, itís extremely important that the Indiana medical staff properly handles the calf strain to insure it does not have a cascade type effect on the previously injured joint. Look for the Pacers to handle the situation very conservatively and give Granger additional days off. He remains a high-risk, high-reward option in all formats.

Brandon Jennings
The Pistons will have to wait for Jennings to make his Detroit debut after the guard has been immobilized for a tooth problem. Jennings is suffering from an impacted wisdom and fracture at the base of the mandible, better known as the jawbone. The wisdom teeth are the most posterior set of molars in the mouth. They usually develop during an individualís teens but can develop later in life. The location of the wisdom teeth can cause multiple problems in the mouth and as a result are often extracted. Wisdom tooth extractions are fairly common in the NBA as players like Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade have undergone the procedure. The majority of these players make a quick recovery and very few actually miss games. However, Jenningsí situation isnít as clear-cut.

Jenningsí tooth is impacted, meaning the tooth is embedded in the gingival tissue and has not broken through the surface of the gums. An impacted wisdom tooth often develops at an odd angle causing complications to the surrounding tissue. In the case of Jennings, the tooth appears to have caused a small fracture in the mandible. This crack is the reason for the immobilization and the extended recovery time. Jennings is expected to miss at least the first four games of the regular season as the doctors keep him immobile for at least three weeks. A matchup against the Pacers on November 5 would be his earliest return date, but donít be surprised to see this linger. The immobilization will affect his conditioning, and he may need extra time to get back up to speed and into playing shape. Fortunately, his long-term outlook is good, and he will remain a productive fantasy player once heís able to shake off the accumulated rust.

Fast Breaks

Kirk Hinrich: The Bulls guard is still recovering from a concussion sustained in an earlier preseason game. Hinrich will miss time as he recovers and will be required to complete the NBAís concussion protocol before he will be allowed to practice or play.

Carl Landry: The Kings will be without the veteran forward for at least three months following surgery to repair a torn left hip flexor. As its name suggests, the hip flexor helps bend or flex the hip, bringing the leg upward. A tear to the tendon or muscle limits this function and requires surgery if severe enough. Golden Stateís David Lee suffered a similar injury during the postseason and managed to return in time for training camp. If Landry follows a comparable path, he should be back in uniform just before the All-Star break.

Paul Millsap: The Hawks' newest player has missed time nursing a sore left Achilles. The injury is not considered serious, but it would not be surprising if he has played his last minutes of the preseason.

Chris Kaman and Steve Nash: A stomach virus is making its rounds through the Lakers locker room with both veterans missing time with the illness. It doesnít appear to have a long lasting effect, but be mindful of the remainder of the Lakers roster possibly catching in the coming week.

Otto Porter: The rookie remains sidelined by a hip flexor strain originally sustained in mid-September. Porter admits the injury is still causing pain but hopes an impending visit with the doctor will provide better insight as to when he can return. The injury has done nothing but delay his development, and itís hard to see him being a significant fantasy contributor this season.

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