2019-20 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: Updating notable training camp injuries
Alex Rikleen updates key injuries that could impact Fantasy Basketball drafts.
Heading into draft season, here is how key injuries stand:
The Clippers finally opened up, to some degree, about George's status at media day earlier in the week. George, himself, said he's feeling "85 to 90 percent" healthy entering camp, though he'll be held out of all full-contact drills over the next three weeks. He went on to say that he anticipates sitting out the entire month of October, including preseason games and, more than likely, the first week of the regular season.
If George is, indeed, targeting a "November" return, as he alluded to Monday, he'll miss at least the Clippers' six October games and perhaps some more time at the start of the next month. Fantasy-wise, the lack of a clear timetable is less than ideal, but George has not suffered any setbacks, and he's unlikely to miss more than a week or two to begin the year. He'll face an adjustment period as he joins his third team in four years, but it's easy to forget George was arguably a top-five player in the league for most of last season before shoulder injuries sapped his effectiveness down the stretch.
While George's status is still up in the air, Leonard will enter the season fully healthy. The Clippers will hold him out of their first two exhibition contests for rest purposes, but the reigning Finals MVP indicated that he's significantly healthier now than he was at this time last season. Of course, the biggest concern when it comes to Leonard is his load management schedule, which the Raptors took to the extreme a year ago, limiting him to 60 regular season games. While that strategy paid off for Toronto, it doesn't sound as though the Clippers plan is quite so drastic.
"It's different this season," Leonard said. "Last year, I was going in with an injury that I was dealing with (from) the year before. It still was lingering and we knew that I had to be healthy going throughout the season and making it to the playoffs. This year, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling way better than I was at the start of last season. There's really no plan laid out yet to discuss with everyone."
Chances are, the Clippers will never come out and publicly announce a games target for Leonard, but Jovan Buha of The Athletic speculated last month that Leonard will be rested "at a rate far lower than last season." Does that mean Leonard will return to playing 70 games for the first time since 2016-17? Who knows. But that seems like a much more realistic possibility now than it did even a few months ago.
Prior to the start of camp, the Hawks announced Collins is dealing with a strained right hip. As a result, he's been limited in recent practices -- though he did practice Tuesday -- and there's a chance he could be held out of the preseason altogether. Still, the general feeling is that Collins will be back to full strength by the time Atlanta begins regular season play on Oct. 24 in Detroit.
Oladipo's recovery, and eventual return, is one of the league's biggest subplots entering the season and could shape the top-half of the Eastern Conference. An All-NBA player two years ago, Oladipo got off to a relatively sluggish start last season before tearing the quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23. Oladipo is said to be making steady progress, but the Pacers have released few details, and his timetable for a return to game action is very much unclear.
Cleared to return to limited basketball activities over the summer, Oladipo is moving in the right direction, but he's yet to progress to any contact work. However, he was on the floor for a portion of the Pacers' first practice last week.
"He spent the first 20 to 30 minutes of practice going through drills," said coach Nate McMillan. "Nothing with contact. Basically the warm-up part of practice. That was good enough for me to see him out on the floor with his teammates."
As of the start of camp, the Pacers believe Oladipo is on course to make his season debut sometime in December or January.
An ankle injury forced Kuzma out of the FIBA World Cup, and while it wasn't initially considered serious, the forward has since been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot. For the time being, Kuzma is on the shelf and is not expected to be evaluated until later in October when the Lakers return from a preseason trip to China.
By that point, the hope is that Kuzma will be cleared for contact, but his status is certainly something to monitor as the regular season creeps closer. Kuzma went through some shooting drills at Monday's practice, but he appeared to be shooting on one leg to avoid applying pressure to his left foot.
Like the Pacers, the Blazers will attempt to tread water until a key piece in the rotation returns. Nurkic suffered his injury -- compound fractures in his left leg -- two months after Oladipo, and he's in the midst of a similarly lengthy recovery. The feeling is that Nurkic could be back sometime around the All-Star break, but it doesn't sound as though the Blazers plan to do Fantasy owners any favors. At media day Monday, GM Neil Olshey said the team will be "purposefully vague" when it comes to discussing the big man's progress.
Alex Len: Nursing a sprained left ankle, as well as a sore lower back, Len has been limited -- or held out altogether -- from practices to begin camp. The expectation, however, is that he'll be fine by the time the regular season arrives. While he's still somewhat of an unproven commodity, Len is worth targeting later in drafts given the Hawks' lack of depth at center.
Troy Brown: The second-year wing suffered a strained left calf in the week leading up to camp and is expected to be sidelined for roughly four weeks. That puts his availability for opening night in jeopardy, meaning the already-shorthanded Wizards could be even more shorthanded to begin the year.
Isaiah Thomas: Thomas ruptured the radial collateral ligament in his left thumb during a workout and underwent surgery on Sept. 18. Initially handed a 6-to-8-week timetable, Thomas will likely be back in the mix sometime in early-to-mid October. Once healthy, the veteran is expected to serve as the primary backup to Ish Smith.
Kevin Durant: While it was reported last week that there's "a feeling within the league" that Durant could be back sometime this season, the Nets have done their part to quell expectations. Last week, GM Sean Marks acknowledged that Durant will "have a large say" as to when he returns, but the team is expecting to be without the two-time Finals MVP for the entire 2019-20 campaign.
Bol Bol: The second-rounder said he was at full strength back in August, but the Nuggets have not yet cleared him to participate in preseason games. Bol said he hopes to gain clearance within the next month, though much of his action this season could come in the G League.
Klay Thompson: For the most part, the Warriors have shied away from placing any expectations on Thompson, and at media day on Monday, the team went as far as to rule him out through the All-Star break. The hope, though, is that Thompson will be back on the floor sometime in March or April, so he'll have an opportunity to work back up to full strength before the postseason.
Russell Westbrook: All indications are that the Rockets are simply being cautious, but Westbrook will be held out of the team's first two exhibition games in Japan. The explosive guard underwent another knee surgery -- in addition to a procedure on his finger -- in the offseason.
Kyle Anderson: Anderson said Monday that he expects to sit out training camp as he continues to work back from shoulder surgery in April. However, he was on the floor at Tuesday's practice, so it appears that initial prognosis may have been premature.
Kyle Lowry: Offseason thumb surgery ultimately kept Lowry off of Team USA, and he' still moving toward full strength as camp opened Monday. The veteran should be good to go by opening night, but for the time being, the Raptors are bringing him along slowly. Lowry has been held out of the contact portion of drills and scrimmages of late.
Wendell Carter: The second-year big man picked up a sprained ankle at practice Tuesday. It appears to be minor, but Carter's status is worth monitoring considering he missed much of his rookie season due to a thumb injury, and then underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury over the summer.
John Henson: The veteran big man returned to full practice Tuesday for the first time in nearly 11 months. A torn ligament in his left wrist kept Henson on the shelf for nearly all of last season, and he'll compete for minutes in a fairly crowded Cavaliers frontcourt.
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