Kawhi Leonard returned on December 12 after missing the first 27 games of the season while rehabbing tendinopathy in his right quad. He’s been on a tight minute restriction since his return and has gotten at least two nights off after each game he’s played. The Spurs are notoriously careful with their injured stars, and that caution was obvious in Leonard’s “return from injury management” plan.
Now, after just nine games, he is taking another indefinite leave of absence to continue his rehab. Leonard clearly wasn’t anywhere near 100%, and playing through the quad injury didn’t help.
Unfortunately, his quad injury is not the only injury Leonard has been dealing with lately. He also suffered a partial tear in his left shoulder on January 5, according to head coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have not released much information about the injury, but the team is calling it a left shoulder strain. A moderate, grade 2 strain suggests a partial tear, but it’s unclear if the injury is to the labrum or rotator cuff. According to the Inside Injuries algorithm, either of those injuries would require a 4-5 week Optimal Recovery Time.
Leonard missed only three games recovering from the shoulder injury, and the time off now will certainly help with both his shoulder and his quad. Earlier this week we said “it’s only a matter of time until he’s back on the sidelines for an extended period of time” as he deals with both injuries. Sure enough, that came true. With a High Injury Risk and Below Average Health Performance Factor, Leonard is now someone to avoid in fantasy unless you have an IR spot.
Steph Curry’s right ankle has been a problem since 2011, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. On top of the two surgeries he had in 2011 and 2012, he also missed 11 games in December recovering from a nasty right ankle roll. He luckily escaped without much ligament damage after the December ankle roll, but the ligaments are stretched each time a player suffers a roll or sprain.
Curry slipped at practice last week and sprained his ankle for the second time in two months. He missed only two games recovering. Given that he did not have X-rays or an MRI, the Warriors medical staff must have deemed the injury a minor tweak, but even minor injuries to the same body part add up. It’s obvious at this point that Curry’s ankle has lingering weaknesses in the ligaments that are affecting stability. He did not take the 2-3 Optimal Recovery Time to rest and rehab his ankle after his most recent roll, and he is a risk of causing further damage as he continues to play through it. Curry is an excellent fantasy guy when he’s on the court, but his ankle problems could keep him off the court for longer than fantasy owners bargained for.
Kyle Lowry fell hard on his back last week, bruising his tailbone. He missed the following three games after being carried off the court by two of his teammates, but he needed more rest according our analytics. Our algorithm calculated a 2-3 week Optimal Recovery Time for Lowry, so it’s no surprise that he struggled with his shot in his return on Monday. He was only 3-of-16 shooting and had four turnovers.
On top of that, Lowry took a few hard falls on his back on Monday, which won’t help his recovery. His High Injury Risk means that he’s in danger of injuring himself even further as he plays through the injury, and his Below Average Health Performance explains his lackluster performance on Monday. Fantasy owners can expect similar stat lines for the next week or so as Lowry tries to play through the injury. It’s also possible that he aggravates the injury and is forced to miss even more time.
Follow Virginia @VZakas and Inside Injuries.