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Mavs 'Secret' Visitors List - Injury History
The NBA Draft is a place where teams can mine talent in an attempt to improve their team. Doing so requires patience, diligent scouting, and plenty of investigation into a player's past. A large component of this includes a through look at an individual's injury history to insure a franchise doesn't invest in a player that may not last through their initial contract. It's an imperfect science that comes with weighing risk versus reward.
The Mavericks enter the 2014 NBA Draft without a first-round draft pick but that doesn't mean Casey Smith and his medical team won't be doing their homework. While an injury-free Andrew Wiggins is out of the question, so too is Joel Embiid, a top prospect with plenty of health concerns. Still there are plenty of players for Dallas to consider as the team has been linked to over 50 potential candidates for selection.
Nowhere else but on DB.com have you seen a virtually complete list of Mavs pre-Draft visitors let alone looks inside the AAC at the Mavs thoughts on them. Those two click provide the Premium info there. Also, our David Lord has pinpointed his four "pets'' worthy of Dallas second-round picks.
Let's take a look at the inherent injury risk of these individuals.
One of the Mavs' biggest offseason needs is a frontcourt player to protect the rim or back up Dirk Nowitzki. A dozen such players were scheduled for workouts in Dallas. A majority of these players have nearly spotless bills of health and come with minimal injury risk. Alec Brown of Wisconsin-Green Bay qualifies despite a minor shoulder and ankle injury last season. Excluding off-the-court issues former Louisville forward Chane Behanan only has one of note, a high ankle sprain that cost him one game during the team's title run.
Power forward Jerrelle Benimon divided his collegiate career between Georgetown and Townson and managed to play through a high ankle sprain and overcome ankle injuries sustained in high school.
Cincinnati's Justin Jackson also managed a pair of foot and ankle injuries but missed minimal time in the process. Also included on this list is Russian center Artem Klimenko, Buffalo forward Javon McCrea, and Baylor senior Cory Jefferson.
A pair of big men suffered more significant injuries but should be fine with proper maintenance. Eric Moreland needed surgery on his dislocated shoulder during his freshman year at Oregon State. It held up during his remaining time in Corvallis but it's worth addressing. Staying in state, Mike Moser of Oregon was healthy last season but did suffer a nasty elbow dislocation during the 2012-13 season. He also nursed a hip flexor strain.
Two individuals do standout as riskier players though they may have the most upside.
Jordan Bachynski was injury-free while at Arizona State. However a tibia fracture in high school threatened to end his basketball career. The injury would require surgery but Bachynski spent the next two years on a church mission and away from basketball. The time away likely helped with the healing process, though any long-term ramifications should be properly examined.
Florida's Patric Young is another intriguing pick though his ankle is a cause for concern. Tendinitis in his right ankle was an issue early in his career at Florida before he elected to have a debridement procedure to remove bone spurs in the joint before the start of his senior season. The ankle held up though he did eventually develop tendinitis in both knees. Scouts have commented on his lack of flexibility, an issue that Smith and Jeremy Holsopple, the director of athletic performance, would likely address.
It should be mentioned that Dallas did bring in Isaiah Austin from Baylor but his career ended before it even began. The 7'1" prospect was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome following a genetic screening by the NBA. Marfan's affects the connective tissue of the body and can be life-threatening as the aorta of the heart is often enlarged. Austin, a player that remarkably played with a prosthetic right eye, has vowed to raise awareness of the condition.
The Dallas backcourt is laden with veteran talent like Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. However with Vince Carter and Devin Harris testing free agency and Shane Larkin still learning, the Mavs could elect to take a perimeter player.
Of the guards the Mavs have worked out four come with relatively unblemished injury reports. Andre Dawkins, Joe Jackson, Kendrick Perry, and Devyn Marble all have minor issues in their past. Dawkins had a mild back strain after taking a year off from Duke basketball to handle personal issues. Perry dealt with a mild left knee injury during his junior year at Youngstown while Memphis' Jackson suffered several minor leg issues, including a calf injury that forced him out of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Marble has sprained both ankles and managed mild calf cramps while at Iowa. However none of the injuries are overly alarming and each player comes with minimal risk.
University of New Mexico product Kendall Williams could have joined the list having completed a healthy collegiate career but an undisclosed injury in high school stands out. The injury is reportedly one of the reasons for Williams didn't progress as hoped and led to UCLA withdrawing their scholarship offer.
Xavier Thames is a San Diego State product and former teammate of Kawhi Leonard. However his level of risk is slightly elevated due to a herniated disc during his junior season. He missed four games with the injury but fortunately avoided surgery. He also sprained the MCL in his right knee during the 2011-12 season. Still Thames appears, by most accounts, to be NBA-ready, and could be an option for Dallas.
Last year the Mavs spent a second-round selection on Ricky Ledo. This year another Providence guard is being considered with senior Bryce Cotton joining workouts. Cotton's right leg may give teams pause as he's needed arthroscopic debridement on his right knee. He's also battled tendinitis in the joint and dealt with a right ankle sprain. Cotton appeared healthy in his final season with the Friars but the long-term status of his right extremity is worth examining.
The remaining four guards all hail from prestigious basketball schools though all come with medical red flags. Keith Appling's career at Michigan State came with two trips to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite 8. However he's partially dislocated his shoulder three times over the past two seasons and missed eight games last season with a wrist injury.
Prior to the 2012-13 season, Ohio State's Aaron Craft underwent surgery on his left ankle to remove a bone chip. Craft endured several other minor injuries including stitches and a hip contusion but the ankle remains his biggest question mark.
Cal's Justin Cobbs needed surgery to repair a fractured 5th metatarsal in August of 2013. The Mavs are familiar with the procedure as former guards Roddy Beaubois and Dominque Jones suffered similar injuries. As they know, the area can easily be reinjured and Cobbs' stock may suffer as a result.
The backcourt player with the most risk is the only one with championship pedigree. University of Louisville product Russ Smith won a title with the Cardinals in 2013 but collected a laundry list of injuries during his time with the team. Prior to the 2010-11 campaign he needed surgery on both the medial and lateral menisci in one of his knees. He also fractured his 5th metatarsal and missed the first four games of the season following surgery. The year would end with him suffering a foot strain, not one, but two concussions, and chronic soreness in his knee. He would add a neck strain, an ankle sprain, and a thumb contusion to the list over the next three seasons. These injuries may be why Smith would fall to Dallas in the first place but there are just too many to ignore, even in the second round.
The last group of players includes the swingman, players capable of splitting time at the two and three positions. Overall this collection of talent comes with the smallest amount of associated risk.
Oklahoma's Cameron Clark did not miss a game during his collegiate career and both Marquette's Jamil Wilson and Davidson's De'Mon Brooks only have minor injuries to report.
Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin missed five games during his senior year but the injuries to his ankle, thumb, and knee do not appear serious.
UConn product Niels Giffey saw his junior season end prematurely after he dislocated and broke his left index finger. He was sidelined one game in the previous season after hyperextending his right knee but the German forward seems to be a low-risk player as well.
Iowa State's Melvin Ejim suffered a bruised left knee after hyperextending the joint last season and returned after just two games missed.
CJ Fair from Syracuse suffered a left leg contusion and facial laceration that required stitches last season but appeared no worse for wear. However he did tear his left ACL in high school and the integrity of the joint should be evaluated.
Finally Roscoe Smith of UNLV missed time last year with a concussion and picked up minor wrist and Achilles issues during his time at UConn. Given that the effects of concussions are cumulative, the head injury may come with risk though the NBA has the lowest concussion rate of the four major sports.
Clearly the Mavericks medical staff has work to do prior to Thursday's draft but they will be called upon to give their opinion on the long-term durability of any potential selection. Injury risk is just one part of the equation but, by minimizing the associated risk, Dallas can help insure their selection can be one that not only is available but productive.
Jeff Stotts serves as DallasBasketball.com's training expert and his website, In Street Clothes, is here.
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