Mavs Draft: Injury History Of Rd-1 Wish List

DALLAS - DB.com knows which first-round prospects visited the AAC basement. Now we work to help you know what ace trainer Casey Smith knows about these players' injury histories ... a key component to who's who in tonight's NBA Draft.



With two picks in tonight's NBA draft (at No. 21 and No. 52, the event launching at 6 p.m. Dallas time), the Dallas Mavericks staff has been evaluating and assessing numerous players over the last few weeks. Part of the process directly involves head athletic trainer Casey Smith and the rest of the of the Dallas medical team evaluating any potential red flags in each player’s medical history. While a player’s potential upside may outweigh any associated health risks, a complete evaluation can help a medical staff considered one of the top and most progressive groups in the NBA establish an offseason protocol to prepare the individual for the rigors of a NBA season.

The DB.com staff has presented a volume of details as it relates to the Draft. For instance:

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*A change in philosophy when it comes to allocating resources for the Draft - and a change regarding free agency, too.

*Details on one day's focus on point guards and another day's focus on wings.

*A 24-hour-a-day effort to name names and collect information on all visitors.

*A 20-year history of what teams get at No. 21 and a study on the odds of getting a star with a mid/late-round pick.

The Mavs brought in a variety of talent for consideration at the 21st pick, each with their own unique injury history. Tyus Jones was the most recognizable name amongst those brought in and carries one of the more interesting injury profiles. In his first game at Apple Valley High School, Jones suffered a lacerated kidney and spent the next seven weeks recovering. Two years later he would miss another extended stretch after surgery was needed to repair a torn a ligament in his right thumb. The 2012-13 season would also serve as the first recorded episode of back spasms, an issue that continues to be a problem. Jones experienced back spasms during his lone season at Duke but never missed a game. However the spasms and tightness resurfaced during the pre-draft process and cut short his workout with the Rockets. Most of the injuries are isolated incidents but expect Smith and company to take a long look at Jones’ balky back.

Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant is another top-rated prospect to visit Dallas though his injury history isn’t quite as extensive. However the number of injuries isn’t as important as the type of injury and Grant’s has one significant injury to note. A stress fracture in his left tibia forced him to take a medical redshirt during the 2010-11 season. The injury marked the second stress-related injury to the area. However he put the injury behind him and reported no issues in his leg over the next four seasons.

Delon Wright, brother of NBA guard Dorrell Wright, is another point guard earning consideration with the Mavs’ first pick, we're told. Wright’s injury concerns are minimal, as he didn’t miss a game during his two years at Utah despite dealing with minor soreness in both knees and a sprained right ankle. He also endured an undisclosed hand injury while playing at City College of San Francisco but none of these ailments are of real concern.

The Mavericks desperately need outside shooting and brought in several guards that could make sense in the first round. RJ Hunter was the highest ranked amongst the bunch but he does have several issues worth eyeballing. Hunter suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during his junior season of high school. The problem would resurface during his freshman year at Georgia State. The 6’6” guard played through the injury but, as the Mavs know firsthand thanks to guys like Dominique Jones and Roddy Beaubois, these types of injuries can be very problematic. The fact that Hunter reported no problems with the foot for the remainder of his collegiate career is promising and a “minor” shoulder injury sustained during a workout with the Hornets appears to be a non-issue.

Justin Anderson is another option for the backcourt, as we've reported, though he too has injury concerns. He made it through his first two seasons at Virginia without any problems but sprained his left ankle in December to start his junior season. Anderson played through the issue but surgery for a broken pinkie just a few months later would force him to the sidelines. His absence was prolonged by an emergency appendectomy and in the end he would miss eight straight games. He struggled upon his return but neither injury should carry any long-term ramifications.

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The same can’t be said for UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn. The 6’6” freshman missed nine games recovering from a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury was the second notable one of his career after he missed two months while at Findlay Prep with an undisclosed injury to the same knee. He also suffered a significant ankle sprain at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in 2013 and another “lower leg” injury prevented him from playing with the U18 National Team. Throw in a mild case of back spasms and Vaughn’s overall risk is significantly higher than other options.

Michael Frazier II is ranked 38th according to DraftExpress and might be a reach for the Mavs at 21. The move would be a tad riskier when injury history is considered. Frazier spent three seasons at Florida missing a lone game in his first year with a concussion. Minor finger injuries and a battle with mononucleosis didn’t slow him down in his sophomore season. However a right high-ankle sprain forced him to miss seven straight outings last season. High ankle sprains are more severe than a garden-variety ankle sprain and run a higher risk of causing chronic ankle dysfunction. Smith and his team are more than equipped to handle these types of issues but why reach on a guy that may already need some additional care.

If the Mavs are going to reach in the first-round, Syracuse Rakeem Christmas may be a safer bet. Christmas didn’t miss a game in his entire four-year career as an Orangemen and comes with a clean bill of health. However if Dallas does opt to draft a forward Montrezl Harrell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seem like the more likely candidates. Harrell, a junior from Louisville, has just two injuries of note, a knee sprain suffered at the Adidas Nations camp and a mild left ankle sprain last season. Neither injury was considered serious.



Arizona sophomore Hollis-Jefferson carries a similar injury profile suffering two mild injuries last season. Hollis-Jefferson played with a shoulder contusion and bounced back from a nasty looking knee injury that ended up being a minor sprain. He performed well in the Elite 8 following the incident, a good sign for a guy dependent on his athleticism. Oh, and he's got the shoulder shimmy, so that body part is all good, too.

Stay tuned ... the entire staff is loaded for bear tonight with full coverage, including continued work from DB.com's Certified Athletic Trainer Jeff Stotts, here on Twitter and also writing for Rotowire and at InStreetClothes.com.

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