Injury Issues With Draft Candidates

The Mavs can make their highest pick in years. They’ve pinpointed targets. Part of their research: Casey Smith and the medical staff’s due diligence. We do the same here in Donuts as we evaluate members of the 2012 draft class – especially guys who Dallas is eyeballing – on the basis of injury history.

DONUT 1: Vertical jump, collegiate success, height, and attitude are just a few characteristics on an endless list that general managers across the league use to evaluate potential lottery draft picks. …

One of the most important traits examined is inherent injury risk. Every potential draft pick is poked and prodded before being selected, while doctors and athletic trainers do their best to sift through the player’s past to insure the team is making a safe pick.
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As the Dallas Mavericks prepare to make their highest pick in years (they sit in the No. 17 spot for Thursday’s draft), we can be sure Casey Smith and the rest of the Dallas medical staff is doing its due diligence.

DallasBasketball.com does the same here as we evaluate some members of the 2012 draft class — especially guys who Dallas is eyeballing — on the basis of injury history.

DONUT 2: Moe Harkless, Perry Jones III, Terrence Ross, and Fab Melo

These four prospects are lumped together because they have no major injuries of note.

Harkless suffered an ankle sprain and a quad contusion last year while with St. John’s, but both injuries were considered minor. Jones limped through two games with a sprained ankle in his final season at Baylor but quickly put it behind him. Ross and Melo (the Syracuse center who visited Dallas last week) were the only players that appear to have a completely clean bill of health. Both likely suffered the routine bumps and bruises that come with playing the game but who ever drafts them should have confidence in their health.

DONUT 3: Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Mississippi State

Moultrie’s inherent risk isn’t particularly high, either. (Good news for the Mavs, who seem intensely interested in him, as DB.com’s exclusive coverage notes here.) He did suffer a shoulder contusion last year in addition to missing three games with tendinitis in both knees. The tendinitis may raise some eyebrows but it’s pretty common in younger big guys, especially those whose bodies grew quickly.
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He doesn’t carry excessive weight on his frame as evident by his 7.7 percent body fat, meaning these joints aren’t subjected to any extra, unwarranted stress.

DONUT 4: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky

Jones suffered a particularly nasty injury last season, dislocating his pinky in a game against Chattanooga. The injury forced him to miss Kentucky’s next two games but did not need surgery. It’s an injury worth noting but nothing to fear. The Mavericks have dealt with worse, including Delonte West’s nasty dislocation this past season.

DONUT 5: Austin Rivers, G, Duke

Rivers has a lengthy list of injuries that include an ankle sprain his junior year of high school and a wrist sprain as senior. In his only season at Duke he dealt with another ankle sprain and shin contusion but still managed to excel. Most of his injuries can be attributed to his aggressive style of play, like his wrist sprain that was the result of a botched ally-oop. Rivers may display a slightly elevated degree of risk but it’s hard to bet against the son of a Doc.

DONUT 6: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina 

Marshall is the first player on the list to suffer a broken bone. During the second round of the NCAA tournament, Marshall suffered a broken wrist that ultimately kept him out of the remainder of the tournament. He broke his scaphoid bone, a tiny peanut-shaped bone that was repaired surgically and appears to no longer be a problem. However as he made his trips to various teams and the combine it was revealed he also broke his elbow on the fateful play and admitted it was less than 100 percent. An elbow problem is never a good thing for a player with a weak jump shot and Marshall’s stock may have dropped a bit accordingly. Fortunately bones heal and while his risk is elevated, it shouldn’t be enough to avoid using the 17th pick on the point guard.
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DONUT 7: Quincy Miller

Here’s where the list starts getting interesting. Miller’s injury is well documented. The forward tore his ACL In December of his senior year at Westchester Country Day School. He missed all the showcase and All-star events but was cleared to play prior to his freshmen season at Baylor. The lone game he would miss was not knee-related but instead the result of a sprained ankle. However, it should not be overlooked that he remains just 18 months out from reconstructive knee surgery and if his MRIs show anything suspicious, healthier options should be considered.

DONUT 8: Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

It seems unlikely Waiters falls this far but he is on Dallas’ wish list and he does have significant injury worth mentioning. He missed his junior year of high school after he broke and tore ligaments in his left ankle. He sprained the same ankle in his sophomore campaign with Syracuse but did not miss any action. Torn ligaments are tricky injuries and can become problematic down the road but, if Phoenix is the team that made him a draft day promise, he will be fine. Aaron Nelson and the Suns staff are the best of the best and revitalized Grant Hill’s career after all his ankle issues.

DONUT 9: Meyers Leonard, C, Ilinois 
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The 7-footer sprained an ankle and suffered a bruised shoulder while at Illinois but it was an injury that occurred before he got to Champaign that should raise a red flag. Just before joining the Fighting Illini, Leonard suffered a stress fracture in his foot. The mid-foot consists of five tarsometatarsal joints that are formed where the metatarsal bones of the foot meet with the cuboid bone and the three cuneiform bones. The linchpin of these joints is the second joint that is stabilized by a strong ligament known as Lisfranc’s ligament. Often times when the midfoot is injured this ligament will avulse a small piece of bone creating the infamous Lisfranc fracture. The injury is often repaired surgically but fortunately Leonard avoided going under the knife. However this is injury can be extremely difficult to recover from, especially for bigs.

Leonard only missed one game in his two years of college but foot injuries in centers should be looked at extremely carefully. For example, a Lisfranc injury was one of the many problems that ended the career of Houston’s Yao Ming. Meyers may go onto have a great career but he does come with an above-average amount of risk.

DONUT 10: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Sullinger’s name has already surfaced as an injury risk after reports indicate a lingering back issue has resulted in him being medically flagged by doctors. He missed two games this past season with back spasms associated with a bulging disc. The issue remains and Sullinger’s camp is blaming the problem on tight hamstrings. It’s extremely possible that tight muscles in the lower extremity are in fact the cause of the problem but Sullinger’s weight isn’t helping either. His combine measurements put his body fat percentage at 10.7. Only seven other combine participants reached double-figures. Any extra girth would put more undue stress on the lower back, making it a much bigger issue.
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Furthermore the back isn’t the only problem. He also dealt with plantar fasciitis, a condition that involves the connective tissue that supports the foot. The fascia is normally durable and able to withstand the increased forces associated with walking, running, and jumping. However if the forces become repetitive or excessive, the plantar fascia can become inflamed and in some cases tear. The condition is bothersome for big men and his added weight would once again work against him. Plantar fascia injuries can linger and players like Joakim Noah, Tony Parker, and Danny Granger all missed considerable amounts of time with the ailment.

The risk on Sullinger is high which is why he could be available for the Mavs in the first place. He could be a steal for Dallas and time spent with Smith, Robert Hackett, and the rest of the Dallas athletic training staff could actually help minimize his associated risk. Still, of all the players associated with Dallas, he remains the one with the most red flags.

By Jeff Stotts
DallasBasketball.com
Posted Jun 26, 2012
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Ryan Wilson

Owner & Founder at Mavs Fanatic
Ryan Wilson founded Mavs Fanatic in January of 2012. He had a vision of starting something new and different. A place where fans of the Dallas Mavericks and fans of writing could come and be heard. A blog "Run By Fans For Fans". He is also a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago WhiteSox(His Hometown Team). Ryan wants to build Mavs Fanatic into something great, and with his fresh and different outlook, it's already well on it's way.