Fantasy Basketball: Injuries to watch in the offseason

The 2018-19 season has come to a close with the NBA surrendering over 5,000 man games lost to injury or illness. This lofty total doesn't include numerous games given off for "load management," a term Fantasy players have come to despise. It's never too early to begin focusing on next year so let's take a look at a few players that will spend the offseason overcoming injuries that prematurely ended their season.

Jrue Holiday, Pelicans

Holiday is the perfect example of how perception regarding a player's durability can be changed. The point guard was once considered an injury liability, missing 90 games over a two year stretch. A recurring stress fracture in his right tibia was the primary reason for Holiday's multiple absences and somewhat unfairly earned him the "injury-prone" label.

However, Holiday would go on to miss just 21 games over the next three years and become a perennial top-50 Fantasy option. He raised his value again this season before an injury, unrelated to his previous leg issues, cost him the final 15 games of the year.

Holiday suffered an abdominal strain that eventually required surgery to mend. The procedure was a core muscle repair, a procedure once known as sports hernia surgery. The term sports hernia is a bit misleading as the injury rarely involves a true herniation. Fortunately, the surgery has a high success rate and there is no reason to think Holiday will be limited entering the 2019-20 season.

Brandon Ingram, Lakers

The forward made progress in his third year in the league before a scary injury hastily ended his season. The official diagnosis was a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his right shoulder. A DVT is a clot that develops in one of the major veins of the body and can be life threatening if dislodged.

Fortunately, the issue was caught early and the root of the problem was addressed. Ingram's DVT development was the result of an anatomical impingement linked to a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Ingram underwent a decompression procedure to fix the problem and he should be able to avoid any future problems. Ingram will look to build on his career-best 18.3 points and 5.1 rebounds next season, though where that might occur remains a question, given expected upheavals in Los Angeles.

Dejounte Murray, Spurs

Murray's season ended before it could even begin as the Spurs point guard suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the preseason. While the timing of the injury cost him a full 82 games this year, there is a sliver of good news in the disappointment. Because the injury occurred so early in the season, it is unlikely to impact Murray's availability for the 2019-20 season.

ACL rehabs have improved recently but quick returns like the one made by NFL running back Adrian Peterson remain outliers. Even when players do return ahead of schedule, they may need additional time to return to peak performance. Because he will have had a full calendar year to recuperate, Murray should be cleared to be a full participant in next fall's training camp and be ready to re-establish himself as an up-and-coming talent in the NBA.

Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers

The Portland big man suffered a gruesome injury just weeks before the playoffs, breaking both bones in his lower leg. The injury was classified as a compound fracture, meaning the bones punctured the skin. Fortunately, it appears he avoided any damage to any neighboring blood vessels, ligaments, or nerves, setting him up for a smoother recovery. Nurkic underwent surgery the day after the fracture occurred and will now spend the next six to eight months rehabbing. It is all but certain his recovery will carry over into next season and it wouldn't be shocking if he doesn't return to full strength until the 2020-21 campaign. He will be a risky investment on draft day.

Victor Oladipo, Pacers

The Pacers were one of the feel-good stories of the year before their All-Star guard and leading scorer crumpled to the court while attempting to defend Toronto's Pascal Siakam back in January. Oladipo was diagnosed with a torn quadriceps tendon that ultimately required surgery.

The quadriceps is a muscle group that plays a role in multiple joint motions. Based on their positioning, the quad muscles are able to assist in knee extension and hip flexion. The four muscles are connected to the lower leg by a conjoined tendon that contains the kneecap. Oladipo tore the portion of the tendon above the kneecap. Without a firm attachment site, the patella can shift from its normal location.

Finding a comparison for Oladipo is difficult, as tendon tears at the knee are relatively uncommon with most failures occurring at the patellar tendon. However, point guard Tony Parker suffered a torn quadriceps tendon during the 2017 playoffs. He underwent surgery to repair the damage and spent nearly seven months sidelined.

Using this timeline, it's reasonable to believe Oladipo could be ready for the start of the regular season. However, Fantasy owners should anticipate the Pacers medical team handing his return conservatively. As a result, look for him to be brought along slowly with regular rest days scheduled.

Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks

The Latvian big man did not suit up for a single game in 2018-19 due to a torn ACL suffered in February of 2018. The injury didn't prevent Dallas from acquiring him at the deadline, and they'll pair him with breakout rookie Luka Doncic to form one of the better young tandems in the league going forward.

This far removed from surgery, Porzingis' knee should be a non-issue. As discussed with Murray, the graft used to mend Porzingis' ruptured ACL should display the same biomechanical properties as a full healthy ligament. Furthermore, Porzingis' medical team, along with the medical staff of the Mavericks, worked diligently to identify and treat several underlying issues that may have contributed to the injury in the first place. Porzingis had missed multiple games earlier in his career with an assortment of injuries on his left leg but there is a growing belief these problems were correctable.

The 7-footer reported an improvement in his movement when he returned to the practice court in late March. He will still carry a degree of risk entering next season -- part of which comes with moving to a new team -- but don't let him fall too far down your draft board.

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