Injuries were a huge story throughout the 2014-15 season. You might have heard the Warriors got “lucky” because they avoided a starting point guard in every round of the postseason, which is one of the laziest takes out there. Anyway, all those injuries mean we have a lot to track heading into the offseason.
We’ll definitely re-visit this in our jam-packed NBA Fantasy Draft Guide, but let’s take a look at some of the players with current injuries that may affect their offseason. Over the summer, we'll have every injury tracked right here on our injury/sidelined page and you can check out our Player News page for all info. The following list will be organized by estimated return with the injured area and target date for basketball activities in parentheses:
Joel Embiid (foot, questionable for season) - This is so sad. In case you missed it this week, Embiid could wind up missing the 2015-16 season with a lack of healing in his foot. We still can’t press the panic button yet, but it’s within arm’s reach. The 76ers said on Friday they’re hopeful to have an answer on his future in a couple weeks. We’ll be watching this situation closer than any other.
Carl Landry (wrist, questionable for opener) - He had wrist surgery earlier this month and could be out five months. Landry dealt with wrist problems throughout the season and he could miss time to start 2015-16. He won’t get much playing time anyway.
Wesley Matthews (Achilles, questionable for opener) - His nickname isn’t Ironman for nothing. Before his Achilles tear, missed just 13 games since 2009. He’s incredible and of course he’s not doubting himself. "I'm not going to let this [injury] take away anything,” Matthews said.
The good news is that he’s already shooting jumpers and he has a decent chance to be ready. What’s more, his offensive skill set shouldn’t change much. Wes is an off-ball killer, which won’t put quite as much pressure on his Achilles with less sharp cutting.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle, questionable for opener) - He had surgery in April and is expected to miss six months. His ankles are toast and the Wolves learned midway through last season what many of us already knew over a year ago: Pek’s ankles cannot hold up to 30 minutes. He’s likely going to miss the start of the season and the Wolves will likely keep him around 20 minutes. Plus, they’re likely going to have Karl-Anthony Towns, which also hurts Gorgui Dieng. Pek's contract looks awful.
Kevin Durant (foot, targeting training camp) - His rehab is going well and he’s on track to be ready. He opted for surgery with his long-term health in mind, so the aggravation factor should be a lot lower. Usually, it’s at about 25 percent with a foot fracture has a setback, but the bone graft will likely cut that even more — I’m not a doctor.
For fantasy, this one is going to be tough. Anthony Davis is a monster, Stephen Curry can put up huge value with his treys and even James Harden is a stat factory. Still, KD was by far the best fantasy player in 2013-14, so he’s in the mix for the top pick. Personally, I’m leaning AD with Alvin Gentry.
Kevin Love (shoulder, targeting training camp) - Before we even worry about his target date from shoulder surgery in April, we’ll have to see where he lands. With the Cavs getting oh so close and falling short, one would think Love wants to come back. Most signs point to him returning, too.
As for the shoulder rehab, he’s already doing some cardio and is working on his range of motion. Shoulder separations are rarely a recurring issue, so that shouldn’t affect his fantasy stock, assuming he’s ready.
Kyrie Irving (knee cap, targeting training camp) - He needed surgery to repair a broken knee cap. John Wall and Blake Griffin both had knee cap issues, but they’ve both bounced back strong and are two of the most durable players in the NBA. Kyrie is a little different because he’s had a slew of injuries in his career, but this knee cap issue seems isolated. He should be healthy.
Kyrie became a superstar off the ball with his efficiency and the big question will be if it continues. Don’t worry. We’ll be covering it in future offseason columns.
Taj Gibson (ankle, targeting training camp) - The Bulls announced on Friday that Gibson had surgery on his left ankle and will miss four months. Gibson said he waited a month to have the procedure because he wanted to get some extra opinions. His left ankle was a problem dating back to Nov. 22 and he missed 17 games because of it. For now, he might have a chance to miss the first game of the season.
Chris Bosh (illness, targeting training camp) - All signs point to him being ready after the very scary blood clot issue. Bosh is already practicing without restriction. Great story.
Brandon Jennings (Achilles, targeting training camp) - After needing surgery for an Achilles tear back in January, he’s already getting shots up and is on track to be ready. The bigger story this summer is that Jennings said he may retire after the 2015-16 season. He’s 25 years old. We’ll see what happens with him and Reggie Jackson, but hearing that may force the Pistons to lock up R-Jax.
Tony Wroten (knee, targeting training camp) - He had a partial tear to his ACL in January and had surgery in February. His rehab has been on track and he should be ready for camp. Obviously, the 76ers’ draft pick will affect Wroten greatly. Plus, don’t forget about Pierre Jackson — there’s more on his below.
Jabari Parker (knee, targeting training camp) - Just when Jabari was getting it going, he went down with an ACL tear in December. The Bucks are expecting him to come back “bigger, stronger and better” for the upcoming season. He’ll play a lot of power forward again this year now that Ersan Ilyasova is in Detroit. He’ll be a risky fantasy target, though.
Jose Calderon (Achilles, targeting training camp) - He’s not going to play in Eurobasket, but he’ll be ready for camp. Calderon is a trade candidate with the Knicks likely looking for another play maker next to Carmelo Anthony.
Kendall Marshall (knee, targeting training camp) - He’s already doing some on-court work, but Marshall, a free agent, might have a tough time getting a guaranteed deal following his January ACL tear. He’s a pass-first point guard, so maybe sticking him in the second unit with a couple scorers could help him out.
Kyle Korver (ankle, targeting September) - His high ankle sprain must have been really, really bad. He’ll be out until September due to surgery back on May 27. Interestingly, he only had two minor ankle flare ups before this bad one. I wouldn’t worry about it once he’s 100 percent.
Shelvin Mack (shoulder, targeting September) - He had shoulder surgery on June 4 and will need 3-4 months of rehab. Mack is under contract for two more seasons with the Hawks.
Beno Udrih (ankle, targeting September) - He had surgery on June 6, but it is likely just a scope. He’ll miss Eurobasket, but he should be ready to go. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Jrue Holiday (leg, targeting August) - For two years in a row, Jrue’s leg has cost him significant playing time. He’ll be ready to go for the opener, but the risk factor is as high as anyone. Fantasy owners won’t be looking to pounce until later in the draft. Although, I kind of like the idea of drafting him and flipping him in a trade after a month or so.
Kobe Bryant (shoulder, targeting August) - His shoulder injury from 2014-15 is not nearly as severe as his knee/tibia issue from 2013-14 or Achilles injury from 2012-13, so his rehab should be smooth sailing. Kobe says he’s hoping to start shooting in August, which means he’ll be close to 100 percent around September.
Ricky Rubio (ankle, targeting August) - Rubio’s ankle injury was one of the worst from last season. It was almost a shock to see he didn’t break it, but a Grade 3 ligament sprain is just as severe as far as long-term effects go. The Wolves handled him with kid gloves down the stretch and that might have been because of their hunt for the first pick. He’s going to have contact work in July.
Donatas Motiejunas (back, targeting August) - Due to D-Mo’s back surgery in April, we got a good look at Clint Capela, which had to feel great for the Rockets. That aside, Motiejunas was one of the most improved big men in the NBA, so he should have a solid role next year. He still doesn’t have a high fantasy celling, though.
LaMarcus Aldridge (thumb, targeting August) - He had surgery in May and he'll be 100 percent for the upcoming season. The bigger question is obviously where is he going to play?
Chandler Parsons (knee, targeting August… maybe?) - His situation is a little murky right now. Parsons and the Mavs haven’t been forthcoming with his specific procedure and/or timetable. There were some reports of Parsons getting a micro-fracture surgery, but that seems to be defunct with Parsons already off his crutches and walking around NYC this month. I’d guess he’ll be ready to roll for camp.
Earlier this month, Rick Carlisle said Parsons’ role is going to grow. The Mavs are likely going to have a different point guard this year and there’s a good chance it’ll be an off-ball point guard like Jose Calderon. Monta Ellis could also be gone. That means we should see Parsons’ assists come back up. He had 4.0 per game in his last season with the Rockets, but that dropped to 2.4 with the Mavs. We can expect that to be closer to four in 2015-16. He’ll be a risky target in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Anderson Varejao (Achilles, targeting August) - There were some murmurs of AV being able to return to the NBA Finals, but they were quickly shot down moments later. Varejao had surgery the day after Christmas and his rehab has been progressing well.
His return is interesting for one reason in particular: Tristan Thompson. With Varejao in the fold, that makes Thompson’s skill set a bit superfluous for the Cavs. They do similar things on the glass, but TT has really flourished in the post in the past two months. Still, I have to admit I can’t believe people are saying he’s more valuable than Draymond Green. Crazy talk.
As for AV’s fantasy value, he’s just hurt far too often to draft in almost any league. Hopefully, that trend will change this season.
Jusuf Nurkic (knee, targeting July) - He had knee surgery back in May, but he’s all set for EuroBasket. Nurk with Mike Malone is very, very interesting. We’ll see what happens with the Nuggets in the draft. He’s a potential target in fantasy.
K.J. McDaniels (elbow, targeting July) - He’s a free agent due to his unconventional contract. His elbow fracture shouldn’t affect his status.
Jae Crowder (knee, targeting July) - He only had a sprain and is already making “great strides” in his recovery. The Celtics are expected to bring him back for next season. After coach Brad Stevens fell in love with him in the playoffs, he’s someone to watch in camp.
Cody Zeller (shoulder, targeting July) - He couldn’t shake his shoulder problem and needed surgery on Apr. 22. Zeller never really got the ball rolling after a big January, making a woeful 35.4 percent from the field in February.
Terrence Ross (ankle, targeting July) - He had surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle back on May 23. This isn’t usually a major procedure and he should be fine going forward. Ross really needs a big season in 2015-16.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle, targeting July) - He’s already doing some on-court work and will start cutting early next month. MKG has been fairly durable and this ankle issue shouldn’t be too concerning. He didn't need surgery either.
Julius Randle (leg, targeting July) - This one stunk. Randle lasted just 14 minutes before he broke his leg. He said he’s back to 100 percent, which means we should see him at summer league. Randle and whoever the Lakers take at two will make for one of the most must-see attractions at Vegas. Penn and Teller don’t even come close.
Shabazz Napier (hernia, targeting July) - He had surgery back on Apr. 1 and is planning to play in summer league. We’ll be watching to see if he can get his own shot inside the arc. That was a huge problem.
Nick Collison (ankle, targeting July) - He had surgery on Apr. 30 and should be close to 100 percent. Collison has a lot of fans in the locker room, but he won’t get much playing time.
Pierre Jackson (Achilles, targeting July) - It sounds like he's going to play in summer league. Jackson tore his Achilles on the first day of summer league last year and needed surgery. That was horrible because he would have been a fantasy factor. We'll watch him for sure.
Al Jefferson (knee, targeting June) - He was cleared for full basketball activity this week and will be ready to go. Jefferson’s health has slowly but surely declined in the past couple years, which means it’ll be tough to grab him in fantasy.
Serge Ibaka (knee, targeting June) - Even after a knee procedure in March, he probably would have been back in time for the playoffs this summer. He's going to play in Eurobasket to give us a glimpse to see how he's doing. Ibaka was indestructible earlier in his career, but now there’s some slight risk. Still, he’s an easy target early and may even slide into the third due to the injury and a slow start.
Paul George (leg, targeting June) - He admitted he’s not quite 100 percent, but there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready to play without restriction in the opener. He’ll be one of the riskiest players to draft in the top 30 picks.
Dwight Buycks (hand, targeting June) - He broke his hand and missed the end of the season. Excite Buycks will probably play in summer league.
Damien Inglis (foot, targeting June) - We will finally get to see him play in summer league after a foot injury kept him out all of last season. Inglis has some length and his upside is promising.
Enes Kanter (knee, targeting June) - Kanter had a knee scope back in April and the Thunder will be looking at him as a priority this summer in free agency. He’s all good on the health front and can go check out the mountains in Utah if he wants. Obviously, Utah won’t be signing him this summer.