Fantasy Basketball: Injury updates on Devin Booker, Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry

Jeff Stotts runs, focusing on sports injuries. He will provide short- and long-term updates on various injuries around the league.   

Devin Booker and Anthony Davis

Two top-tier Fantasy options went down over the last week with similar injuries. The first came on December 1, when Davis was injured in a loss to the Jazz. Four days later, Booker was carried off the court in Toronto by teammates. Evaluations on both revealed adductor strains. While the injury sounds a bit unusual, it's a common ailment that is generally referred to as something else.

The area known as the groin isn't an isolated muscle but a group of muscles known as the adductors. The adductor group work together to pull the leg inward toward the midline of the body in a direction known as adduction. Muscles included in the groin include the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis.  The adductors are a necessary component in basketball, especially during lateral (side-to-side) movement. Additionally, some of the adductors work synergistically with other muscles to aid other movements at the hip and knee.

Neither Phoenix nor New Orleans revealed the exact muscle their respective players strained, but Fantasy owners can expect both teams to handle the injuries conservatively. Davis' recovery has not been assigned a firm timetable, while Booker is expected to miss two-to-three weeks. Both players may be eased back into the fold once they are cleared as groin injuries can be fickle and easily aggravated.

Booker's absence will add Fantasy value to Tyler Ulis and open additional minutes for rookies Josh Jackson and Mike James. In New Orleans, Dante Cunningham has replaced Davis in the starting lineup opposite DeMarcus Cousins. The shift hasn't resulted in a major improvement in Cunningham's productivity as his playing time has increased by just three minutes per game since Davis went down.

Stephen Curry

Curry's rise to stardom was slowed considerably by his right ankle. In his first four seasons in the NBA, the now-two-time MVP missed 51 games due to problems with his right ankle, including multiple sprains and two separate surgeries. However, Curry bounced back remarkably and missed just two games, both in the postseason, with ankle-related problems over the next four seasons. That will unfortunately change now, as Curry is expected to miss at least two weeks following a right ankle sprain sustained against Miami.

While a MRI revealed the ligaments of the outer ankle are still intact, Curry is reportedly dealing with a considerable amount of swelling in the joint. Golden State's top-rated medical staff will spend the next few weeks addressing this and any other symptoms while progressively working him back to basketball-related activities. Given the Warriors' abundance of talent and their focus on a second straight championship, don't be surprised if Curry's absence extends beyond the allotted two weeks. Look for Golden State to lean a bit more on their other All-Stars with Shaun Livingston seeing an increase in usage. However, it was actually former Duke standout Quinn Cook who started in Curry's place Wednesday against Charlotte.

Hassan Whiteside

Miami's franchise center is once again sidelined with a bone contusion on his knee. Bone is a multilayered tissue with each layer varying in thickness and composition. Each layer can be damaged following a direct blow or impact, resulting in a specific kind of bone contusion. While the extent of Whiteside's injury has not been publicly made available, each type heals in a similar fashion with the body's healing response laying down new bony tissue at the injury site. This process takes time to ensure a full recovery. Unfortunately, the location of the patella (kneecap) makes bone contusions in this area a bit more problematic.

The kneecap sits within the tendon of the quadriceps muscle group so that it can increase the moment of torque and improve range of motion by increasing the moment arm of the tendon. However, during this process, the kneecap comes in contact with multiple areas of the knee joint, especially the femur. This repetitive bone-on-bone contact can impede healing and prolong the associated rehab process.

Whiteside is expected to miss at least one more week with the injury, but that remains a best-case scenario. Even if he does return following the team's current, three-game road trip, Miami's schedule could present a problem. From December 13 to December 20, the Heat play five games, including three road games. Five games with only three days off in between could cause issues for a player working his way back from injury. Whiteside owners should exhibit patience and have a stopgap readily available until the end of the month.

Fast Breaks

  • Blake Griffin: The Clippers Curse continues with Griffin expected to miss an extended period of time after spraining the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. The MCL sits on the inside aspect of the knee and is often sprained when a player falls into the outside part of another player's leg. The impact places a force known as a valgus stress onto the inner portion of the joint, pushing the ligament beyond its yield point. While Griffin's injury is a mild-to-moderate sprain, his recovery will be measured in weeks not days. Since the 2005-06 season, the average missed time for a Grade 2 MCL sprain is approximately 19 games, or roughly six weeks. The recent return of Danilo Gallinari will help ease the loss of their All-Star forward but the Clippers' playoff streak remains at risk.
  • Kawhi Leonard: The Spurs forward is expected to return in the coming days after missing the entire start of the year with a lingering quadriceps tendinopathy. Leonard's injury did not progress as quickly as San Antonio anticipated, but his return to the lineup will bolster a team that was nonetheless able to remain in the upper tier of the Western Conference. Leonard's return may slow down LaMarcus Aldridge's impressive start to the year, but routine rest days should help offset any dip in productivity.
  • Nerlens Noel: Noel's first full season with the Mavericks hasn't gone as planned, as the former top 10 pick is averaging just 12.5 minutes per game while collecting a handful of DNP-CDs. Now his exile to the bench will be extended by injury, as he is expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the thumb ligament most commonly, injured but there have been cases of NBA players suffering radial collateral ligament (RCL) tears. Regardless of the involved ligament, Noel is slated to miss four-to-six weeks recovering. Look for Dallas to explore all their options while Noel is sidelined though this setback only further reduces his diminished trade value. 
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