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NBA Injury Analysis: Looking Ahead

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.

This is easily the hardest week to gauge injuries in the NBA. With the Western Conference playoff picture set and the Eastern Conference coming into focus, teams will begin to actively rest players (even more so than normal) and minor injuries will lead to conservative treatment plans. Teams looking for a few extra ping-pong balls for the impending lottery will also opt to sit seemingly healthy players over the next few days, creating a difficult course to navigate for fantasy owners. Rotowire’s Daily Lineups section remains the go-to option for leagues still operating, especially daily formats.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the injuries worth monitoring throughout the offseason in anticipation for the 2017-18 season.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid

The Sixers young duo has yet to play a single game together after injuries altered both players’ availability. Simmons missed all 82 games after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during training camp. Fifth metatarsal fractures are a surprisingly common injury in the NBA that generally require a sizeable amount of recovery time. Fortunately, there has been no talk of Simmons’ slow-to-mend bone needing an additional procedure and he should be back for the preseason. Multiple players including Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez and C.J. McCollum have rebounded well from this injury, providing an encouraging precedent for Simmons.

Embiid’s historically problematic foot held up this season though he only managed to appear in 31 games due to a predesigned return to play protocol and a midseason knee injury. Embiid suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee that was surgically addressed. The Sixers revealed a meniscectomy was performed, meaning the damaged piece of cartilage was removed rather than repaired. As a result, Embiid should be cleared to resume basketball activities in a matter of weeks and not months. He too should be ready for training camp.

Zach LeVine

The high-flying guard has emerged as more than just an explosive dunker, finishing the season with career-highs in scoring, shooting and rebounds. Unfortunately, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ended his season in early February. Surgery was performed to fix the damage, kicking off an extensive rehab process. The timing of the injury may make it difficult for LeVine to return by the start of the regular season though advancements in technique and treatment have improved the recovery timeline. Fortunately, data suggests players who suffer this injury at a young age are likely to return to their previous level of play, with many going on to produce career highs in PER. LaVine is 22 years old and should be a viable fantasy option next year.

Justise Winslow

The 2016-17 season proved to be a lost campaign for Winslow as he played in just 18 games due to wrist and shoulder problems. The shoulder was the more complex issue as he needed surgery to repair the labrum of his glenohumeral joint. The labrum is a fibrocartilage rim that stabilizes the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. Surgery often requires a lengthy recovery, though the Heat did state Winslow was ahead of schedule in January. Again the long-term outlook of this injury is promising among basketball players, and Winslow should be cleared in time for training camp and the preseason.

Derrick Rose

Knee surgery for the former MVP ended what could be his lone season in a Knicks uniform. Rose suffered a torn medial meniscus in his left knee and, like Embiid, underwent a meniscectomy. The procedure was Rose’s fourth knee surgery since 2013. He previously underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee and had two additional surgeries for meniscus tears in his right knee. He will finish the year with 64 games played and enter the offseason looking for someone willing to invest in a former MVP with two problematic knees. His final destination will influence his fantasy value for next season, but he’ll carry a large degree of inherent injury risk regardless.

Jusuf Nurkic

The Bosnian Beast was a key part of Portland’s late-season resurgence and a fantasy friendly commodity in the process. He averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals in 20 games with the Trail Blazers. Even more impressive than the stats is the fact that he played 32 minutes in a much-needed win over the Rockets on a nondisplaced fracture of his right fibula.

In the long-term, Nurkic should be fine, primarily because the fibula is considered a nonweight bearing bone. Furthermore, there have been no reports of any nerve issues, a common complication with fibular fractures. While a postseason return may not be in the cards, Nurkic should be 100 percent for the start of next season.

Rudy Gay

The 30-year-old forward tore his Achilles tendon in mid-January derailing his offseason plan to opt out of the final year of his contract. The last provided update indicated Gay was on track for the start of next season, though this type of injury can be career-altering, especially for players who depend on their athleticism to succeed. Gay has yet to make a decision regarding his contract, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him elect to stay in Sacramento.

Chandler Parsons

The Grizzlies offseason acquisition failed to live up to his price, struggling for a majority of the season with chronic knee problems. He entered the year on a minutes restriction after undergoing a right medial meniscus tear. The injury came less than a year after Parsons underwent a hybrid microfracture surgery at the end of the 2014-15 season. Unfortunately, his latest injury occurred in the opposite knee as he tore the medial meniscus in his left knee. He underwent a meniscectomy in mid-March and is line for a third straight summer of rehab. Parsons faces an uphill battle to return to his previous high level of play.

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