Fantasy Basketball: Week 4 NBA Injury Analysis

Deciphering an injury report can often prove difficult in Fantasy Basketball. Sometimes information provided by NBA teams can be a bit vague, forcing Fantasy owners to make important roster decisions based on limited or ambiguous reports. However, it is often easier to focus on what is actually being said and not what is left open-ended.

This week, we'll start in Atlanta with a second-year forward who's yet to take the floor this season:

In Atlanta, the Hawks continue to wait on the return of second year big man John Collins as he recovers from an ankle injury. The exact diagnosis has not been confirmed with each update simply stating Collins is recovering from inflammation and soreness in his left ankle.

Unfortunately, both of these problems are not true injuries but are instead symptoms linked to an underlying cause. A more definitive timeline may be possible if the nature of the problem was classified as a sprain, strain, or bone-related issue.

Because that has not been revealed, Fantasy owners should look for other context clues in the regular information provided. Atlanta's most recent update states that Collins "has progressed to modified on-court drills and shooting routines." This means he is able to put weight on the affected area and is nearing the final phase of recovery. The Hawks also indicated that they hope Collins will be able to participate in "modified team practice in the coming week." This further strengthens the idea that the injury is improving and an end to the waiting is on the horizon.

Barring a setback, look for Collins to return to action by mid-November. Patience will remain a necessity because the Hawks will likely gradually build up his usage to ensure his ankle holds up to the stress supplied by playing at a high level.

The Cavaliers forward recently underwent surgery for an undisclosed injury of his own. Like Collins, symptoms of Love's left big toe injury were described though no clear diagnosis was revealed.

The big toe is an underrated joint of the body especially at the location where the bones of the foot meet the bones of the toe -- the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. It serves as a major lever for pushing off and jumping, and is often subjected to forces equal to 70 to 100 percent of an individual's body weight. Any injury at this location would result in regular pain while significantly limiting function of the entire leg.

Though Love's injury could range from turf toe to a joint capsule problem, his treatment plan was clear as a trip to the operating room was needed to address the pain and inflammation surrounding the digit. He will be re-evaluated in six weeks to determine the next phase of recovery. As a result, an eight-week layoff seems likely and it wouldn't be surprising to see it extended even longer. With teammate Sam Dekker also sidelined by injury, look for Larry Nance Jr. to see an uptick in usage.

Conversely, the Thunder have been upfront with Westbrook's injury providing details and a diagnosis. The former MVP suffered a left ankle sprain when he landed on the foot of an opponent. The impact forced Westbrook's ankle inward in a direction known as inversion. This mechanism of injury leaves the ligaments on the outside aspect of the joint vulnerable to injury. He has already been ruled out for Wednesday but will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis following that matchup with the Cavaliers.

The team plays Thursday at home against the Rockets before a Saturday meeting with the Mavericks. It seems a weekend return against Dallas is the most realistic scenario but the situation remains fluid. Dennis Schroder will assume additional responsibilities as long as Westbrook remains in street clothes.

Fast Breaks

Luka Doncic: The Mavericks rookie has had a stellar start to his NBA career, averaging 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. The fact that he hasn't been completely healthy makes the debut even more impressive. Doncic picked up a lower back injury early in the season but played through the ailment. He then suffered a right ankle sprain that forced him to sit out a practice. However, he has yet to miss a game and remains a must-start in all formats. Look for Dallas to give him ample rest between outings to insure he remains in the lineup.

Draymond Green: The versatile forward appears to have avoided serious injury as X-rays taken on his injured right foot failed to reveal a fracture. However, his availability for the next few games remains in doubt as the team plans on treating the problem conservatively. Don't be caught off guard if he sits a game or two.

Kawhi Leonard: In Toronto, Leonard remains day-to-day with a "jammed" left ankle. The non-description reveals little about the nature of the injury though the problem does not appear serious. He's expected to play Wednesday night but is still worth monitoring through the rest of the week.

Norman Powell: Leonard's absence is complicated by a shoulder injury to Powell. The Raptors swingman suffered a shoulder subluxation against the Jazz and remains out indefinitely. A subluxation involves the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, medically known as the glenohumeral (GH) joint. The GH joint is formed where the head of the humerus meets a depression on the shoulder blade known as the glenoid cavity. Unfortunately, the normal alignment of the joint can be disrupted in varying degrees following repetitive force or direct trauma. If the displacement is minor and the shoulder joint slips out but naturally returns to its normal location, the injury is classified as a subluxation or partial dislocation. A total dislocation occurs when the displacement of the joint is complete. Following a dislocation, the joint must often be realigned by a medical professional and is considered a more serious injury.

For Powell, his return will likely be dictated by the structures that were damaged when the subluxation occurred. A tear to the fibrocartilaginous labrum would be a significant setback. It would be wise to expect Powell to miss at least a week with his injury with the potential for a longer absence looming. For what it's worth, coach Nick Nurse intimated Wednesday that he expects to be without Powell for multiple weeks.

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