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Fantasy Basketball Injury Red Flags: Part I

Fantasy owners that can avoid the injury bug for the season are putting themselves in a fantastic position to contend for a fantasy title. The activity of playing basketball is unbelievably tough on the leg joints and it's quite common that a player will deal with the same injury multiple times in his career. With that idea in mind, this article is designed to get you in the know about which players have some injury red flags. On the other hand, there are players that missed a significant amount of time last season due to a freak occurrence. I'll be pointing out the good and the bad on which players may have their fantasy value a bit skewed in your ADP for your host site.

Part I of the series will cover the heavy hitters of your fantasy draft. Let's check 'em out:

Chris Paul- We’ll hear a lot about this guy for the non-deal and also the concern for his balky knee injury. Last year after Paul sprained his knee and tore his meniscus, Dr. James Andrews attempted to surgically repair his meniscus by essentially putting it back together. Due to the severity of the meniscus tear, the surgery was a failure and Andrews opted to take out that meniscus. The meniscus, anatomically speaking, is a fibrocartilage and its primary purpose is to alleviate the stresses that come with weight-bearing exercise. This may sound bleak and all, but missing one of the four menisci doesn’t make him extremely susceptible to a knee sprain in the immediate future. This develop caused a lot of people to compare CP3 to Brandon Roy. Not quite. Roy has the worst knees in the NBA right now since he is missing all four of his menisci (two in each) which leaves his knees on an unstable foundation and will result in swelling on a frequent basis. It’s not the same for Paul at this time, but the compensation of his left knee only having one meniscus does leave it vulnerable to wear down at some point. Assuming his three remaining meniscus are close to 100 percent, chances are they should hold up for the season. Although, Paul’s knee will swell up on him due to the rigors of an NBA season, especially with the back-to-back-to-back schedules. You should check out my CP3 breakdown for more here.

Deron Williams- Williams has dealt with several ankle problems in the NBA dating all the way back to 2008 when he suffered an ankle sprain the preseason. Deron took time off in 2009 to get his ankle to heal as well, but there is still some speculation that his ankle would not be the same. Deron's ankle woes were overshadowed last year with his persistent wrist injury. What was perceived to be just a mild sprain, caused Deron to miss 13 games in March and April. The Illinois product is still such an elite guy for fantasy that he should still be off the board before the eighth pick in the draft.

Dwyane Wade-
Back in 2008 Wade was dealt with what was believed to be a perpetual knee injury that could plague him for a large portion of his career. Wade had surgery to fix his tendonitis and since then things really couldn't have gone much better for him. Dating back to that year, he has been healthy for 77 or more games on the season (he was rested on the last game of o the season). Wade's slow start last year was a thing of the past and he should be viewed as the best shooting guard in fantasy.

Stephen Curry- Curry's ankle is about as stable as the Kardashian-Humphries marriage. Despite Curry only missing eight games, it was like Chinese Water Torture with how even the smallest tweak would cost him the rest of a game. The nature of Curry's game does bode well since he gets most of his production from the perimeter which could keep him out of harm's way in the paint. You'll read a lot about Curry's ankle over the next few weeks, don't let it dissuade you from taking him in at the end of the first round or in the early second.

Amare Stoudemire- Microfracture surgery is always a hot topic around sports-injury aficionados. Stoudemire had said surgery back in 2005 and hasn't seen any sort of major hiccup since. Yeah, of course he'll have some knee swelling, but the concern of his knee should have minimal bearing on his fantasy value for his 2012 campaign. It’s safe to say we can’t clump him with Penny Hardaway and Chris Webber in the Microfracture Fiasco Club (meets twice a week and has free punch and pie). The bigger concern in the short term is Amare's back injury. STAT missed four games last year due to this ailment and back injuries can flare up just as much as a knee injury. Just ask Andrei Kirilenko or Martell Webster. For you anatomy buffs out there, the back and the knees are the only regions in the body that have fibrocartilage in them in order to take on so much weight-bearing and a flare up can result in some serious pain. Buyer beware. Make no mistake though, STAT is the top center on my board.

Monta Ellis- Ellis gave his owners quite a scare last year when he went down in a heap in January with a very minor left knee injury. The reason why this fall was so scary was because Monta has ACL surgery back in high school and he suffered a Grade-3 ankle sprain (complete tear) to his left ankle from the infamous Moped Monta incident. I was so shell-shocked, that I even wrote an article about it last year called
Fantasy Panic Attack (check it out!). Ellis played 80 games last year which helped vault his value to borderline first round for this coming season. Although in 2009-2010 Monta dealt with a right ankle sprain (to good ankle) and a left knee sprain (bad one) causing his game log to only accrue 64 games. Monta is a custom-built fantasy machine, there is a lot of risk involved though and there are 16 guys I’d draft before him.

Pau Gasol- Gasol's bum hamstring and ankle were supposed to devastate his fantasy value last year. Well, so much for that. Gasol played in all 82 games last year for the first time since 2003. Gasol is 31 and starting the season on a back-to-back-to-back se isn't going to help him get started on the right foot. Nevertheless, he is still a top-three center for eight-cat leagues.

UPDATE: Gasol is dealing with a quad injury. The injury is believed to be minor and it shouldn’t hurt him come Christmas.

Kobe Bryant- Like his teammate, Bryant probably had his lowest ADP last year because his season should have been cut drastically short by having his knee scoped three times in the earlier part of 2010. The Black Mamba's knee was just fine last year. 82 games. Kobe is a warrior in every sense of the word and he shouldn't see his value slip based on the 15 years of grinding in the NBA. Think MJD.

LaMarcus Aldridge- BREAKING: L.A. is undergoing a battery of tests on his heart and is expected to to miss up to two weeks with a minor procedure. The report adds that the cardiac tests are an annual thing for the Longhorn and there’s no need to panic at this point. The reason for these tests is due to his diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome during his rookie year. WPW Syndrome causes the ventricles of the heart to collapse a bit earlier than they should which will result in a thrown-off P wave on an ECG (electrocardiogram). I’m speculating here, chances are his cardiologist is checking for a new arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) compared to how his heart usually reads on an ECG as well as an echocardiogram (here's a gif). As far as the procedure goes, and again I'm speculating, Aldridge may have had an ablation procedure. Essentially, an electrical signal is sent to the troubled area of his heart to fix the arrhythmia. Recover is usually just a couple days, but it's obviously going to be longer for a professional athlete to resume strenuous activity. I wouldn't worry too much and Aldridge is still a top-25 pick on your board at this time.

John Wall- Last year's top pick missed 13 games last year with a sprained ankle and the always gloomy knee tendonitis. There were rumors going around, as they tend to do, that the tendonitis of his knee could be a lingering issue for the former Kentucky Wildcat. Wall does have huge upside this year with his 8.3 APG and likely to be the first or second scoring option, so fantasy owners have every right to take him in the top-25 picks in eight-cat leagues. I probably won't be drafting him though.

Rudy Gay-
Gay suffered a shoulder subluxation at the end of last year to end his season after a career-type year. A subluxation is really just a partial dislocation of shoulder and it's not likely to affect him at all. Don't be shy about drafting Gay and expect him to have another monster year.

Eric Gordon- Gordon suffered a fractured wrist last season and made matters worse by aggravating the injury. This marked the second season in a row where he aggravated an injury after he did the same thing to his groin in the 2009-2010 season. Those two blemishes on his medical chart caused him to miss a combined 56 games. Neither injury should be of the recurring variety and E.J. is a nice pick in the third.

Danny Granger- Batman had two injury-plagued seasons in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 by missing 15 and 20 games, respectively. Granger, like Kevin Martin, is just one of those guys that is befallen by a diverse amount of injuries. The most notable was his torn plantar fascia back in 2009 and caused him to miss a month. Granger’s other major ding was a foot sprain he suffered back in February 2009. The good news is that neither of these injuries have crept up on him and it looks it’s in the past. Last year the Pacers made good on their word by limiting Granger’s minutes by dropping his MPG total by almost two minutes per. Granger had a down year statistically and is a nice bounce-back candidate in the third round.

Gerald Wallace- They don’t call him Crash for nothing. Wallace has never played in more than 76 games in a season and has quite the laundry list of injuries. He suffered a rib injury from a cheap shot by Andrew Bynum (video here), a concussion from a viscious elbow of Mikki Moore and several other hardnosed basketball plays. Crash doesn’t really have any chronic injuries like a knee and the light game log is basically just a result of his style of play. Chances are if Wallace does miss time, it won’t be a season-ending injury and he’ll likely miss games here and there. He played outstanding in Portland and he shouldn't slip past the third round in eight-cat leagues.

Andre Iguodala- Iguodala strained his Achilles last year and it was the primary reason for him missing 13 games. It’s likely something that Iggy Hop will have to deal with for the rest of his career since the Achilles’ tendon is relied upon for a lot of tissue contraction and compression. These motions make it all the more likely for the damaged tissues to remain in prime condition, thus making him a bit of a risk Iggy also missed games due to knee tendonitis last season. Even though it was just a mild case on tendonitis, it’s extremely risky to draft a guy that had a double whammy in the two most troublesome areas to suffer recurring injuries.

Manu Ginobili- Ginobili gave his Spurs fans and keeper owners a scare when he suffered a sprain of his right ankle in October. Ginobili had a season-ending stress fracture in his right ankle back in 2009 and has dealt with ankle sprains on multiple occasions. Ginobili’s played in a career-high 80 games last year following a 77-game 2009-2010 campaign. Personally, based on all the mock drafts I’ve been doing I won’t be drafting Manu because his ADP is right around where some high-upside big men and Ty Lawson get drafted.

Nene Hilaro- It sounds like Nene is going to sign a whopping four-year deal for $65 million. Nene is quite a story by beating cancer, which doesn’t alter his fantasy value, but he did suffer the dreaded torn ACL back in 2005. His knee has held together for the most part with the exception of a hyperextension of said knee in January 2010. Nene is one of the best fantasy centers out there for his outstanding 61.5 FG%. If Ibaka is gone, Nene makes for a nice low-level C1.

Thanks for reading and we'll have Part II next week! Post your comments below and send all questions or comments to me on Twitter.