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NBA Injury Analysis: Big-Name Injuries

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.

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Bigs
The Trailblazers have been one of the few teams to avoid significant injury to their top rotation players this season. At the midpoint of the season the team had lost 40 games to injury, good enough to tie them with Sacramento for the sixth fewest games lost this year. The number is even more impressive when you consider that a majority of those games belonged to rookie CJ McCollum who missed 32 games while recovering from a foot fracture sustained in training camp. The overall health is a testament to the hard work put in by first year head athletic trainer Geoff Clark and his entire medical staff. Unfortunately even the best preventative care in the world can't completely stop injuries from occurring as three members of the Portland frontcourt are nursing injuries, none more important than Aldridge.

Aldridge is currently sidelined with a left groin strain that first appeared just before the All-Star break. The team elected to shut him down for a week and plan on reevaluating the injury in the next few days. The groin muscle is responsible for pulling the leg toward the midline of the body and is extremely crucial in moving laterally. Strains to the area are common and can become chronic issues if let untreated. The decision to sit Aldridge was a sound one and the team is approaching rehab very conservatively. They are not allowing him to run or jump, hinting the one-week timeline could easily be extended. Keep an eye out for the results of his follow up with team physicians to get a better idea of when he will return. Fantasy owners in weekly leagues shouldn't gamble on the All-Star's availability.

Teammates Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard join Aldridge on the sidelines with injuries of their own. Freeland suffered a right medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and is expected to miss between four and eight weeks. The timeline is similar to the one established for Grizzlies center Marc Gasol who ultimately missed 23 games following his Grade 2 MCL sprain. Leonard won't miss quite as much time but a sprained ankle is going to cost him at least two weeks according to the team.

Andrew Bogut
Despite lingering concerns about his left ankle and overall health, the often-injured Bogut was an active participant in Golden State's first 48 games. However, a rough night's sleep has proven costly, as Bogut has missed seven straight games with a bone contusion in his left shoulder. The Aussie center says the problem began after he slept on the shoulder awkwardly. The inflammation stemming from the injury was significant enough for the Warriors to opt for a cortisone injection. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory, not a pain-reliever, but does provide relief for the individual as the inflammation and subsequent symptoms subside. However, Bogut's shoulder reacted poorly as he suffered a side-effect known as a cortisone flare.

A cortisone flare occurs when the synthetic cortisone used in the injection crystallizes resulting in an increase of pain. Flares are generally short lived, lasting no longer than 48 hours. However it is considered a setback and another reason why Bogut has not been able to return.

The Warriors are optimistic Bogut will be back in uniform at some point during their six-game road trip that begins Monday against the Pistons. In the meantime, veteran center Jermaine O'Neal will continue to man the center position and is worth a look in most formats.

Tony Parker
The Spurs' decision to shut down Parker for the "foreseeable future" should not come as much of a surprise. Head athletic trainer Will Sevening and Coach Gregg Popovich have a strong relationship built on trust. Together, the two place their players in the best position to succeed while maintaining a certain level of health. This is evident in their willingness to rest key members of the rotation regardless of the team's current record or scheduled opponent. The list of players to receive time off for rest while with the Spurs includes Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, David Robinson, Stephen Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Richard Jefferson, and countless others.

Usually the individual receiving the rest doesn't necessarily have an injury, but that's not the case for Parker. The All-Star guard has been limited by a myriad of ailments including a left hand sprain, lower back tightness, and an inflamed groin. He has also missed time this season with a right ankle sprain and a right shin contusion. Factor in San Antonio's deep playoff run and Parker's time with the French National team, and you suddenly can see why an extended period of rest was very much needed. Look for Parker to be evaluated in the coming days and an update to be provided. In the meantime, the suddenly surging Patty Mills and Cory Joseph will continue to man the point guard position.

Turf Burns

Kobe Bryant: Bryant's latest meeting with team physicians did not go well, and he is expected to miss at least three more weeks as the swelling and pain in his broken knee persists. With the Lakers' record continuing to trend downward and additional time needed to return to playing form, the odds of Bryant playing again this season appear bleak. Fantasy owners still clinging to hope should use this latest setback as the final hint to move on elsewhere.

LeBron James: James missed his second game of the season Sunday, recovering from a broken nose suffered against the Thunder earlier in the week. The fracture is not James' first facial injury having previously fractured his zygomatic bone (cheekbone) during the 2004-05 season. Miami does not play until Thursday this week, giving James an entire week of rest. He may be forced to wear a protective mask upon his return, but don't expect it to slow him down. He wore a mask for 16 games following his cheekbone fracture and averaged 26.0 points, 8.7 assists, and 7.6 rebounds.

Nene: The Wizards center suffered a left knee sprain Sunday and is slated for a MRI on Monday. There's plenty of cause for concern here even though it was his right ACL that he tore in 2005. He missed 13 games in the 2004-05 season with a left MCL sprain and suffered another sprain in the 2010 playoffs. The results should be released at some point Monday with the Wizards fearing the worst.

Jared Sullinger: Sullinger suffered a concussion over the weekend and was a spectator for Boston's game against the Kings. He has been placed in the NBA concussion protocol and will return to play once it has been completed.