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Update on NBA injuries impacting Fantasy Basketball landscape

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard appeared to be lost for the season, but could make an impact down the stretch. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

By Jeff Stotts, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

The 2017-18 NBA season has been riddled with injuries, with multiple All-Stars suffering significant ailments. As a whole, the league has lost over 4,000 games due to injury or illness and remains on pace for its highest total since the NBA shifted away from an injured list prior to the 2005-06 season. Of course, these injuries have had a considerable impact on the fantasy landscape and will continue to do so through the end of the season.

Avery Bradley

Bradley has not played since the Clippers returned from the All-Star break as he continues to battle a lingering injury. The problem first surfaced during his brief stint in Detroit where he received an injection for recurring pain in his groin. The Pistons linked the problem to a pubic stress injury. The issue remained following his trade to Los Angeles with the Clippers now referring to the problem as athletic pubalgia.

The pelvis is made from the two conjoined coxal (hip) bones. These two bones are united at a cartilaginous joint known as the pubis symphysis. Athletic pubalgia often affects this area, causing the individual to develop micro-tears in a nearby muscle or muscles. Athletic pubalgia is often referred to as a sports hernia though that diagnosis has become a bit of a catch-all for any injury to the abdominal and groin area. The term is misleading as well as individuals with a sports hernia may not present with actual herniation or protrusion.

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Because of this ambiguity, there has been a recent push, led by renowned surgeon Dr. William Meyers, to eliminate the term “sports hernia”. Dr. Meyers, who has successfully performed surgery on numerous former and current NBA players including Grant Hill, Rajon Rondo, and Jamal Murray, prefers the term “core muscle injury”. The term excludes the misleading hernia tag and recognizes that the injury can occur to any of the many muscles that make up a player’s core.

While conservative treatment can help the problem, surgery is often necessary. Bradley has openly admitted surgery is an option for his case and is unsure if he will play again this season. If he does opt to go under the knife, it will effectively end his season as the associated recovery often lasts between four-to-six weeks. Fantasy owners holding out hope for a late-season return on Bradley should begin to look elsewhere with the guard facing an uncertain timeline and possible surgery. Bradley’s absence will increase the value of Austin Rivers while also opening the door for more playing time for Milos Teodosic.

Stephen Curry: The two-time MVP appears to be fine after tweaking his historically problematic right ankle. Curry suffered the injury in the team’s recent win over the Hawks and was unable to finish the game. However, his removal from the contest was purely precautionary and he should be available Tuesday against the Nets. A nice break in the schedule should help, as well, with the team receiving three days off between games.

Reggie Jackson: The Pistons are hoping to make one last push for the postseason and the impending return of Jackson could be a nice catalyst. Jackson has not played since suffering a severe Grade 3 ankle sprain on December 26. The team is hopeful he can return to the practice court sometime this week before they embark on a six-game road trip on March 13. However, it’s worth noting that Jackson may be eased back into the rotation to ensure the ankle is a non-factor moving forward. Keep a close eye on Jackson’s progress over the next few days to get a better idea of when we will see him in action again.

Brandon Ingram: Ingram did not play Saturday against the Spurs after suffering a hip flexor strain in the Lakers’ win over the Heat. He was slated for a MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the damage. Ingram has been diagnosed with a strained groin and will be evaluated in a week.

The timing of the injury couldn’t have come at worst time for Ingram, who had been averaging 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 blocks, and a steal in his four games following the All-Star break. Ingram’s absence, coupled with the loss of Josh Hart to a broken hand, should create extra opportunities for Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Kuzma and Tyler Ennis.

Kawhi Leonard: After it appeared he may be lost for the season, there is growing optimism that Leonard will rejoin his teammates on the court before the end of the month. Leonard has missed a majority of the season managing a quadriceps tendinopathy. However, like previously discussed with a sports hernia, the term “tendinopathy” can act as a catch-all term.

A tendinopathy simply means there is something wrong with the tendon, though that can be an assortment of problems, ranging from tendinitis to a degenerative disease of the tendon. Even a tendon strain could technically fall into the tendinopathy category. Regardless of the specifics, Leonard has been cleared to resume activity though his return will be dictated by his comfort level. As a result he is a precarious fantasy play but may be worth a stash for teams well established in the standings or staring at a first-round bye.

Kevin Love: The Cavaliers forward is optimistic he can return to action ahead of schedule. Love was expected to miss eight weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand on January 30. He recently returned to controlled contact drills and could return to games in the next two weeks. Since the 2005-06 season, the average time missed for a fifth metacarpal fracture has been roughly 17 games, suggesting a mid-March return is feasible.  However, fantasy owners should remember Love will be returning to a completely revamped team and may need some time to return to top form. Still, Love remains an intriguing stash option in most formats and could be a nice boost for the fantasy postseason.