Fantasy Basketball: Fantasy injury analysis updates Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Brandon Ingram and more
RotoWire's Jeff Stotts checks in on Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Brandon Ingram and other key injuries to monitor as draft season approaches.
Kevin Durant's decision to trade in his Warriors jersey for a Nets one was just one of the massive moves that made the 2019 offseason the most frenetic in league history. However, don't look for Durant to make an immediate impact for his new team.
The former MVP will likely spend the entire season recuperating from the Achilles tear he sustained during the NBA Finals. Achilles tears are one of the problematic injuries in sports, particularly in the NBA.
The Achilles tendon is the conjoined tendon of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, commonly known as the calf. Together this muscle group is responsible for pointing the toes in a direction known as plantar flexion and plays an important role in running and jumping, particularly during acceleration. Furthermore, the calf helps stabilize the ankle.
Surgery is often necessary to repair the tear and is accompanied by a lengthy recovery process. The average time missed for qualified NBA players is 330 days (roughly 11 months) with the numbers improving in recent cases such as Wesley Matthews (back in 231 days), Kobe Bryant (241) and Rudy Gay (261). However, all of those injuries occurred in the regular season, while Durant sustained his at virtually the latest possible point of the NBA season. As a result, Durant's recovery is undoubtedly spilling over into the upcoming campaign and will likely cost him the year.
Fortunately, Brooklyn has one of the most respected medical teams in the NBA and will work diligently to get him back on the court. While few players return to their previous levels of play, Durant's ceiling was high enough that he should still be a top-tier talent when he eventually returns. For Fantasy purposes, this means he holds minimal value in season-long formats, while those in dynasty or keeper formats may have a chance to snag Durant at a discounted price.
Durant's former teammate will also spend the majority of the 2019-20 season rehabbing as Thompson works his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. The ACL is one of the four primary stabilizers of the knee and prevents excessive forward movement of the tibia. However, it is frequently torn by athletes and generally requires surgery.
The recovery window for ACL tears has improved over time, but it is still an injury that requires substantial time off. The team's initial estimate was five to seven months but Thompson has since cooled those numbers, admitting he is targeting a return shortly after the All-Star break. Additionally, the newly acquired D'Angelo Russell should allow the Warriors medical team to handle Thompson's recovery a bit more conservatively.
Thompson will have some Fantasy value for the upcoming season, as he should be back for the playoffs in head-to-head matchups. However, those in rotisserie leagues may find his price tag too high for a player that will likely play fewer than 30 games. Studies suggest Thompson can return to his previous level of play, but we might not see him at 100 percent until the 2020-21 campaign.
The Pacers guard was in the middle of another All-Star-caliber season before tearing the quadriceps tendon in his right knee. As previously discussed with the calf, the quadriceps are a group of muscles -- not an isolated muscle. As its name suggests, the quad is comprised of four muscles, the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Together these muscles work synergistically to carry out knee extension (straightening of the leg). The positioning of the rectus also allows it to assist in hip flexion (bending the hip).
The four muscles are anchored to the lower leg by a common tendon. The patella (kneecap) floats within this tendon. The portion of the tendon above the kneecap is known as the quadriceps tendon while the inferior portion that attaches to the tibia is known as the patellar tendon.
The tendon can fail at both locations, disrupting motion at the knee. Without a firm attachment site, the patella can shift from its normal location. The majority of NBA players to suffer an injury to the area rupture their patellar tendon. However, Oladipo's injury occurred to the quadriceps tendon.
Players like Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, and Malcolm Brogdon have all missed time in recent seasons with partial quadriceps tendon tears, while the now-retired Tony Parker missed roughly seven months after completely tearing his quadriceps tendon during the 2017 playoffs. Oladipo's recovery remains without a firm timetable, though it has been suggested that he will not be available to start the season. Additionally, it could take him some time to shake off any rust and an injury of this magnitude could easily result in a dip in productivity during his initial season back. An early December return seems plausible, but his value on draft day should be appropriately adjusted.
The new Pelicans forward will look to take the next step in New Orleans after his final season in Los Angeles prematurely ended due to injury. Ingram underwent surgery after developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his right shoulder. A DVT is a clot that develops in one of the major blood vessels of the body.
DVTs usually develop in the lower extremities and can be life-threatening if dislodged. Ingram's DVT was linked to thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), a condition that arises when blood vessels or nerves are pinched near the shoulder and neck. Ingram underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery on his right arm to address the problem.
Ideally, future clotting will be prevented with the root of the problem excised. Ingram should be fine for the start of training camp and will look to build on the potential he flashed at the end of last season. In his final 20 games played, the fourth-year forward averaged 21.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 54 percent from the field.
The veteran point guard was able to help bring Toronto its first NBA championship, despite a badly injured thumb. Lowry dislocated his left thumb during the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia. The stress resulted in ligament and tendon damage that were later surgically repaired. Lowry had hoped to be cleared in time to participate in the FIBA World Cup but ultimately was forced to withdraw from consideration to continue his rehab. The decision should prove beneficial because it could allow him to be ready for the start of training camp.
Westbrook will be reunited with former teammate James Harden in Houston and will look to average a triple-double for the fourth straight season. However, the former MVP has collected knee surgeries almost has skillfully as he collects stats -- he underwent a right knee debridement shortly after the end of the season. The elective procedure was the fifth surgery on his right knee since the 2012-13 season.
Westbrook will, of course, remain a Fantasy-friendly option, even despite his inefficiencies, but he comes with an elevated level of injury risk. The same goes for Pistons forward Blake Griffin, who underwent surgery on his left knee for the third time in his professional career during the offseason.
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