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NBA Draft Kit: Injury Primer

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.

Ready for Training Camp

Player: Jarrett Jack
Injury: Right ACL and medial meniscus tear and surgery
Notes: Jack’s 2015-16 season ended in January following a devastating knee injury, and he has spent the last nine months rehabbing. The Hawks signed the veteran point guard despite the injury and hope he can mentor Dennis Schroder. Atlanta’s had success rehabbing players coming off ACL surgery, though his fantasy value will be limited by his reserve role and a likely conservative approach to treatment.

Player: Tiago Splitter
Injury: Hip surgery
Notes: Splitter’s first season in Atlanta was cut short by hip surgery. He was unable to participate in the Rio Olympics with the Brazilian National Team due to his ongoing rehabilitation but should be an active participant in training camp. Splitter has a history of leg issues and will need to prove he’s capable of staying on the court.

Player: Kelly Olynyk
Injury: Shoulder surgery
Notes: The Boston forward was limited for most of the season after suffering a partially dislocated right shoulder. He aggravated the injury in the postseason and ultimately opted for surgery to repair the damage. The early reports are encouraging, with Olynyk displaying full range of motion in the joint. Look for the Celtics to steadily bring him along during training camp and the preseason.

Player: Frank Kaminsky
Injury: Chest injury
Notes: Kaminsky was unable to take part in Summer League after developing a small pocket of air in his chest wall. It was likely a spontaneous pneumothorax, a surprisingly common issue. The area was treated surgically and Kaminsky should be fine.

Player: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Injury: Multiple shoulder surgeries
Notes: Kidd-Gilchrist played just seven games during the 2015-16 season after suffering two separate labrum tears in his right shoulder. The success rate of shoulder labrum repairs is relatively high and MKG resumed full activity over the summer. Look for him to bounce back in the upcoming season.

Player: Kemba Walker
Injury: Left meniscus surgery
Notes: The Hornets explosive guard underwent surgery on one of the fibrocartilage discs in his left knee shortly after Charlotte was eliminated from the postseason. Walker underwent a meniscectomy, meaning the damaged tissue was simply removed. The procedure has a quick return-to-play timeline and Walker will be ready for the start of training camp. However, keep in mind Walker has had meniscus problems in this knee dating back to his UConn days and has now undergone surgery twice in the last three years. As a result, his level of associated risk will be higher than others.

Player: Isaiah Canaan
Injury: Shoulder labrum tear
Notes: The Bulls signed Canaan despite the fact that he missed the final four games of the year with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He opted not to undergo surgery on the injury, instead focusing on rehab. Treating a labrum tear nonoperatively is common in the NBA with several players including Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, and Carmelo Anthony choosing this route. Most of the individuals have continued to play at a high level and Canaan should find a role as much-needed floor spacer in Chicago.

Player: Nikola Mirotic
Injury: Knee contusion
Notes: Mirotic earned a bronze medal in Rio but suffered a minor knee injury in the process. He bumped knees with Australian big man Aron Baynes in the final game but was able to return. Further testing revealed no significant damage and Mirotic will be cleared in time for training camp.

Player: Devin Harris
Injury: Toe and thumb surgeries
Notes: The former All-Star guard needed two surgeries to alleviate problems that limited him during the course of the season. Harris had a ligament repaired in his left thumb and surgery on his left big toe. Both injuries have healed, though the toe is a bigger concern. Harris has had reoccurring problems with the toes on his left foot since the 2012-13 season and has now undergone two surgeries on the area. He will play a key role in Dallas’ second unit if he can stay healthy, though that’s easier said than done.

Player: J.J. Barea
Injury: Right meniscus surgery
Notes: The diminutive point guard was a key part of a late season surge by Dallas to secure a playoff bid. However, he was limited in the team’s five-game series with the Thunder and ultimately underwent a debridement on his problematic knee. Like Walker, the damaged tissue in Barea’s knee was removed, and he should be ready to go in time for camp.

Player: Deron Williams
Injury: Sports hernia surgery
Notes: D-Will started 63 games in his first season in Dallas, as injuries continued to be a limiting factor. His historically problematic ankle held up, but he suffered a strain to his lower abdominal and groin region. He played off-and-on through the final months of the season before getting shutdown in the playoffs. He underwent surgery in the offseason and was cleared in late August to return to basketball activities. The Mavs will slow-play his return, easing him back into top form in order to ensure he’s available for the regular season.

Player: Malik Beasley
Injury: Stress fracture in tibia
Notes: The 19-year-old rookie played with a tibia stress fracture throughout his lone year at Florida State. He underwent surgery shortly before the draft in hopes of avoiding any long-term issues. He was ultimately selected by Denver and has resumed running. He will likely be ready for camp, though the Nuggets could opt to treat him conservatively given the above average chance of a complication.

Player: Wilson Chandler
Injury: Right hip labrum tear and surgery
Notes:The veteran suffered a right hip labrum tear during preseason and missed all of last season recovering from surgery. The timing of the injury was unfortunate but should allow Chandler to return at full strength for the upcoming campaign. However, tread cautiously here as Chandler has now had labrum repairs on both his hips.

Player: Kevon Looney
Injury: Bilateral hip labrum surgeries
Notes: Looney’s problematic hips were a concern that hurt his draft stock and were the primary reason the Warriors were even able to draft him. The concerns were warranted, as he eventually needed surgeries on both hips to address impingement issues within the joint. He will be hard-pressed to be completely cleared to start camp, but he’s hoping to carve out a role on a talented Golden State team.

Player: Blake Griffin
Injury: Partially torn left quadriceps
Notes: Griffin missed over half the season and a portion of the playoffs with a partially torn quadriceps. He opted to utilize a bone marrow aspiration to treat the injury site. Similar to a PRP injection, the technique is used to stimulate the healing process. In this case, a concentrate of fluid is taken from the individual’s bone marrow and introduced to the affected area. Griffin is expected back for camp after sitting out the Rio Olympics.

Player: Julius Randle
Injury: Hand laceration
Notes: After missing the majority of his rookie season with a broken leg, managing stitches in between his right middle and ring fingers will be easy for the third-year pro. Randle suffered the injury during offseason workouts but should have the stitches removed well before camp.

Player: Marc Gasol
Injury: Navicular fracture and surgery
Notes: Memphis’ big man missed the final two months of the season with a navicular fracture in his right foot. This type of injury hasn’t been kind to centers, as it has altered or delayed the careers of such notable players as Zydurnas Ilgauskas, Yao Ming and Joel Embiid. Gasol was reportedly close to returning in time for the Rio Olympics and should take part in training camp. However, his level of risk will be elevated until he can play without any setbacks or complications for an extended period of time.

Player: Chandler Parsons
Injury: Right meniscus tear and surgery
Notes: Memphis’ big offseason acquisition comes with a degree of risk, as Parsons has spent the past two summers recovering from knee surgery. His second operation was needed to address a minor tear in his medial meniscus and not nearly as complex as his previous “hybrid microfracture” procedure. Parsons should be ready to start camp with his new team, though don’t be surprised if Memphis brings him along slowly.

Player: Michael Carter-Williams
Injury: Hip labrum repair and surgery
Notes: The Bucks point guard underwent surgery to repair a labral tear in his hip just days after being diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in the same leg. The two injuries were likely linked and should be resolved in time for preseason, though his list of injuries is growing rapidly for what has been a relatively short professional career.

Player: Anthony Davis
Injury: Knee surgery and shoulder labrum tear
Notes: Despite being a dominating force on the court, the Brow has shown a propensity for injury since joining the league. Last year his season was cut short by a troublesome shoulder injury that originally occurred in 2013. He avoided surgery on the shoulder but opted to use the missed time to address his chronically problematic knee. He underwent an ultrasonic debridement and received a bone marrow aspirate injection to help treat tendinosis in his left knee and is expected to be healthy for the start of camp.

Player: Cameron Payne
Injury: Jones fracture and surgery in right foot
Notes: Russell Westbrook’s dancing partner may be limited entering camp after undergoing surgery on his right foot. Payne had a broken fifth metatarsal surgically repaired shortly after Orlando Summer League, though the team is optimistic he will fine in time for the regular season. OKC has a history of dealing with the injury, having previously done so with Kevin Durant during the 2014-15 season.

Player: Joel Embiid
Injury: Navicular fracture, surgeries
Notes: It appears Embiid will finally make his professional debut over two years after being selected by the Sixers. Multiple surgeries to address a fracture of his navicular bone have kept the big man sidelined, but Philadelphia thinks his long journey to recovery is complete. However, Embiid’s inherent injury risk will continue to remain high as the chances of a setback or re-injury linger.

Player: Jahlil Okafor
Injury: Meniscus tear and surgery
Notes: Okafor’s rookie season was a mixed bag of sorts, as off-the-court problems and season-ending knee surgery prevented him from being a consistent presence for the Sixers. However, the tear in Okafor’s right meniscus was reportedly minor and shouldn’t be a problem when camp commences. He could be in line for a strong second season, though trade rumors persist.

Player: Noah Vonleh
Injury: Right thigh debridement
Notes: The 2014 lottery pick underwent surgery in late August to remove a bone fragment in his right thigh. The procedure was expected to keep him out three-to-four weeks, giving him minimal time to be ready in time for training camp. However, Portland employs one of the league’s best medical teams over the past few seasons and they should have Vonleh back quickly.

Player: Festus Ezeli
Injury: Right knee injections
Notes: Ezeli has spent the better part of the past three seasons dealing with problems in both knees. He missed the entire 2013-14 season following surgery on his right knee and was sidelined 31 games last year following a debridement procedure on his opposite knee. The left knee remains an issue and required a bone marrow aspirate injection and a lubricant injection during the offseason. Given his lengthy history of issues, look for this situation to potentially carryover into the later stages of preseason and maybe even the regular season.

Player: Dante Exum
Injury: ACL tear and surgery
Notes: Exum suffered a torn ACL prior to the start of last season and missed the entire season. Utah’s addition of veteran George Hill will allow the team to carefully manage Exum’s workload throughout the season. He’s expected to be an active participant in training camp now over 12 months removed from the injury.

Player: John Wall
Injury: Bilateral knee surgeries
Notes: Wall endured multiple injuries last season but only missed the final five games of the season. Once the offseason commenced, he opted for surgeries on both knees. He underwent a patellar tendon debridement on the left knee and an arthroscopic lavage on the right. The procedure on the left is considered more significant, though Wall was expected to resume running by the end of July. However, it would be wise to assume Washington will exhibit extreme patience with their All-Star guard.

In-Season Returns

Player: Jordan Adams
Injury: Multiple knee surgeries knee
Notes: Since being selected in the 2014 draft, Adams has undergone three separate surgeries to address cartilage problems in his right knee. His most recent procedure included a cartilage transplant, and the team has ruled him out indefinitely. If the recovery process carries over into the regular season, Adams could force Memphis to consider alternatives.

Player: Chris Bosh
Injury: Blood clots
Notes: Bosh has spent two years dealing with one of the scarier injuries of recent memory. The former All-Star has developed blood clots in back-to-back seasons, forcing him to examine his basketball mortality. While Bosh is confident he can find the right mixture of preventative and ongoing care to prevent a third problem, Heat president Pat Riley has intimated that Bosh's time with the team is over.

Player: Caris LeVert
Injury: Foot fractures
Notes: LeVert would have likely been a lottery pick if not for the three foot surgeries he underwent during his time in college. His injury involves the fifth metatarsal, the same bone that gave Kevin Durant problems during the 2014-15 season. Multiple surgeries are common with this type of injury but the Nets feel confident that the most recent procedure will be his last. The reason for optimism is sound, as Brooklyn’s team orthopedist, Dr. Martin O’Malley, performed the procedure. The Nets will exhibit patience here just as they did with Chris McCullough last season.

Player: Tyreke Evans
Injury: Right knee surgeries
Notes: The New Orleans swingman is expected to miss the start of the season rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee. Evans has undergone four surgeries on the joint over the past two seasons and the Pelicans will extend his rehab process to ensure he’s healthy enough for a complete return. The situation clouds both his short-term and long-term values as the probability of another setback or complication will remain high.

Player: Jodie Meeks
Injury: Right foot surgery
Notes:Meeks missed 63 games after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the second game of the 2014-15 season. He was traded to Orlando in the offseason and was forced back under the knife shortly after the deal was completed. A secondary procedure is common for this type of injury but will likely cost Meeks a chance to gel with his new teammates.

Player: Josh Richardson
Injury: Knee sprain
Notes: Richardson suffered a partial tear or Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. Fortunately, he avoided any concurrent damage to the medial meniscus and will avoid surgery as the MCL is capable of healing without visiting the operating room. He will likely miss between six to eight weeks, meaning his availability for the start of the season is in real jeopardy.

Player: Delon Wright
Injury: Right shoulder labrum repair
Notes: Wright suffered a right shoulder dislocation during Las Vegas Summer League play. The forced displacement left Wright with enough labrum damage that surgery was necessary. The estimated recovery window at the time of surgery was at least four months, suggesting we may not see the second-year guard until Christmas.