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NBA Injury Analysis: Ankles, Knees, Hips, and Hands

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.

Kemba Walker
In a season that has been dominated with rare and costly injuries like tibial plateau fractures, it's easy to forget that the ankle sprain remains the most prevalent injury in basketball. Since the start of training camp, there have been over 80 recorded ankle sprains in the NBA with several players suffering multiple sprains. Walker recently joined that list, suffering a Grade 2 sprain of his left ankle. A Grade 2 diagnosis means the sprain is considered moderate with the involved ligament partially tearing. This marks the third ankle sprain of Walker's career and the second time he has sprained this particular ankle. However, this injury appears more costly as Walker will miss the first game of his professional career. The Bobcats anticipate their leading scorer to miss 10-to-14 days recovering, a number that is right in line with previous Grade 2 ankle injuries. The last 18 players to suffer a similar sprain missed an average of 7.8 games. Charlotte is scheduled to play seven games over the next two weeks.

Fantasy owners looking to benefit from the injury should consider Ramon Sessions. Relegated to the bench for the year, Walker's absence thrusts Sessions into the starting lineup. In 102 career starts, Sessions has averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 assists, making him a solid short-term option in all formats.

Gordon Hayward
The Jazz forward has not played since scoring a career-high 37 points against Oklahoma City. He's missed five straight games with a left hip flexor strain, and the team is still unsure of when he will return. The hip flexor is a group of muscles that work in unison. The muscle primarily responsible for flexion at the hip is the iliopsoas, which originates from a smooth surface on the hip. If this area becomes strained and inflamed, the individual is significantly limited in their ability to run and jump. If the inflammation is persistent, an anti-inflammatory injection like cortisone can be utilized. Hayward has not reached that point, a good sign that the injury is acute and not chronic in nature. The team considers him day-to-day, but he remains a risky play in weekly leagues with just two games on the Utah schedule.

Rajon Rondo
The Celtics welcomed their All-Star point guard back against the rival Lakers on Friday, and he was in uniform again on Sunday against the Magic. He's averaged 20 minutes in his two games played and will likely remain on a minutes restriction for at least another week. The team has even hinted Rondo will sit on the second night of back-to-backs. He will need time to adjust to his new teammates and shake off the remaining rust, but I like Rondo as a potential trade target.

Fast Breaks

Devin Harris: Harris returned to the Mavericks' active roster after missing the first half of the season recovering from offseason surgery on the second metatarsal in his left foot. The surgery involved an alteration of the bone, and a setback in rehab delayed his return. However, Harris returns without a minutes restriction and is expected to see time backing up both guard positions. He is a much needed boost to the Dallas bench, especially with rookie Gal Mekel out indefinitely after suffering a partial tear to the lateral meniscus in his right knee. Harris won't put up numbers like he did during his All-Star season with the Nets, but he could be worth consideration in deeper leagues.

Patrick Beverley: The Rockets will welcome Beverley back Monday against the Blazers after the guard missed 14 games with a fractured fourth metacarpal in his right hand. He will likely wear some sort of padding around the injury site but will rejoin the starters. His return bumps Jeremy Lin back to the bench, decreasing Lin's value slightly.

Randy Foye: Foye fell victim to the stomach bug sweeping through the Denver locker room. He missed Sunday's game against the Suns. Teammate Kenneth Faried also got sick and appeared in limited minutes as he fights the lingering effects of the illness.

Tony Parker: The Spurs are treating Parker's right tibia contusion with extreme caution, giving the All-Star point guard the night off on Sunday. Exhibiting patience with this type of injury is wise to ensure it doesn't develop into a more serious injury like a stress fracture. Parker has missed three games this season due to the injury, and don't be surprised to see him sit a few more depending on his response to treatment.

John Salmons: Back spasms kept Salmons off the court Sunday after he had worked himself into the Raptors rotation. He will be considered day-to-day moving forward with Terrence Ross seeing an increase in minutes. Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Greivis Vasquez, or Julyan Stone could also be used in the short term.

Jason Smith: Smith joins teammates Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson on the sidelines after suffering a cartilage injury to his right knee. The injury will require surgery, though a specific date has not been determined. Smith was averaging 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.0 block in 26.8 minutes per game before the injury. His minutes will likely be split between Alexis Ajinca and Greg Stiemsma, but both have shown little to warrant much consideration from fantasy owners in standard leagues.

Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin: Both New York big men are expected to miss at least two weeks recovering from ankle sprains suffered in the same game. Extra consideration will be taken in their recovery to ensure neither player overworks their chronically injured knees. Teammate Metta World Peace continues to sit after undergoing platelet-rich plasma treatment on his left knee. It has been two weeks since the procedure was performed, and the Knicks should provide an update soon.

Nikola Vucevic: Vucevic has yet to complete the league's mandated concussion program after suffering his second concussion in the last 10 months. The effects of concussions are cumulative, meaning they build on one another. The individual often experiences longer and more significant symptoms and requires more time before returning. He'll remain out until he completes the protocol.