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NBA Injury Analysis: Removed, Not Repaired

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.

Eric Bledsoe
The feel-good story of the Western Conference took a twist when it was determined Bledsoe' right knee injury would require surgery. Originally ruled a sprain, an MRI revealed damage to the lateral meniscus. This diagnosis was particularly troublesome for Bledsoe who had previously needed surgery for a similar injury prior to the 2011-12 season. With the lockout in full swing, Bledsoe was unable to work with the Clippers medical staff, and his recovery took longer than anticipated. He missed 15 games to start the year and never looked like himself upon his return.

The most recent surgery performed was a debridement, meaning the piece of damaged menisci was removed rather than repaired. A meniscus removal is good for Bledsoe in the short-term as the recovery window is smaller and he has a chance to return this season. However, with the cartilage gone, the durability of the knee could be affected, raising questions about his long-term outlook. Chronic issues like arthritis could factor in down the road, though the Phoenix staff will take all the preventative steps possible to minimize the impact of the removal.

With Bledsoe out for at least four weeks, Goran Dragic should see an increase in value, and Gerald Green becomes a must-add in all formats. Green has done well in a starting role, averaging 15.4 points and 2.7 three-pointers per game.

Jrue Holiday
The Pelicans were dealt another setback over the weekend as their starting point guard was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right tibia. Stress fractures to the tibia are the most common stress–related bone injury, and studies show basketball players are more susceptible to this type of injury given the amount of running and jumping the sport requires. In fact, Holiday is the second player this season to be diagnosed with a tibia stress fracture along with Denver's JaVale McGee.

I previously discussed the science behind the injury when breaking down McGee's injury, but Holiday's case provides a bit more information. Both the Nuggets and Pelicans never publicly discussed the location of their player's fracture, but reports out of New Orleans indicate Holiday has appeared at practice wearing a protective boot. A boot would suggest the injury is in the middle to distal portion of the leg near the ankle. Fortunately, this means the knee wasn't involved, and the integrity of the meniscus and tibial plateau has not been compromised. However, stress fractures in the lower aspect of the tibia can often take longer to heal, as this area is responsible for a considerable amount of weight bearing in the ankle joint. The distal end of the tibia, known as the plafond, bears roughly 90 percent of the load placed on and through the ankle joint.

Holiday will spend the next few weeks performing minimal activity until additional examinations are performed to determine the rate of healing. Once it is determined the bone is healing and forming a proper union, he will gradually progress his workload. The Pelicans can use an assortment of equipment, including an altered-gravity treadmill or underwater treadmill, to steadily bring him along. However, time remains his best friend, and fantasy owners should be prepared to be without Holiday for a substantial amount of time. The last five players to suffer a true stress fracture in their tibia missed an average of 22 games, and these numbers do not include McGee. McGee has missed 30 games this season and still has not been cleared to return.

Holiday's absence will move Brian Roberts into the starting rotation though he's done little to garner much fantasy attention. Roberts has shot a combined 6-of-22 (27 percent) from the field for a total of 16 points in New Orleans' first two games without Holiday. Tyreke Evans can't take advantage of Holiday's injury as he too is sidelined. Evans aggravated his left ankle, an injury that has bothered him throughout the season.

Fast Breaks

Arron Afflalo: A foot strain has put Afflalo in street clothes, and he is not expected to play Monday against the Mavericks. Foot strains can be very problematic, and he may be worth benching in weekly formats.

Tyson Chandler: The Knicks are hoping Chandler will be available Monday after he missed three straight games and the majority of a fourth with an upper respiratory infection. These types of illnesses can significantly weaken an individual and negatively affect their conditioning. Play him if you have to, but understand he'll need a few games to shake off any accumulated rust.

Marc Gasol: The Grizzlies could be close to welcoming their starting center back as Gasol is expected to go through a full practice Monday. If his knee holds up, we could see him back in the lineup sometime this week.

Danny Green: Green suffered a sprained left index finger in a blowout win over the Timberwolves. He posted a picture to his Instagram account of his hand in a cast along with the note that he would be sidelined for at least a few weeks. Marco Belinelli becomes a nice pickup with Manu Ginobili also nursing a tight left hamstring.

Gordon Hayward: The Jazz forward missed one game with a strained left hip flexor but hopes to return Monday. He was a limited participant in Sunday's practice, and more should be known following Monday's early morning shootaround.

Shawn Marion: The veteran forward suffered a right shoulder and rib contusion against the Lakers and did not play in Dallas' next three games. He's a game-time decision for Monday's contest against the Magic.

Chandler Parsons: Parsons has been bothered by a sore right knee recently but did take part in shootaround on Monday and expects to play against the Celtics. It sounds like Parsons may have hyperextended his knee and irritated both the calf and hamstring. Scale back your initial expectations until he's shown the injury is behind him.

Deron Williams: Williams will not travel to London due to his troublesome ankles, meaning fantasy owners will get exactly zero games from him this week. He will be reevaluated when the team returns but should be shelved for the upcoming week.