2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: These players are returning from injury — can you trust them?

By Kirien Sprecher, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

A handful of NBA superstar players missed most of the 2022-23 season due to serious injuries, but those aren’t the only injuries fantasy managers should be monitoring ahead of their upcoming drafts. Let’s take a deep dive into all fantasy-relevant players who’ve dealt with an injury, or are currently dealing with one, that could impact when/where they should be drafted this season.

Missed most of 2022-23

Zion Williamson, Pelicans

Willamson has played more than 30 games just once since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. He missed all of 2021-22 due to a foot injury and briefly returned to action last year before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. Willamson was trying to make it back for a potential postseason run when a video of him doing a windmill dunk during warmups went viral. The video sparked speculation that Willamson was healthy but simply not willing to return to action, but those notions were quickly thwarted when the team said the superstar forward was never cleared for contact drills before New Orleans was eliminated during the Play-In Tournament.

Williamson had all offseason to regain his conditioning and should be cleared to fully participate in training camp, but he’ll presumably be monitored very closely and subject to periodic rest days throughout the 2023-24 campaign.

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Chet Holmgren, Thunder

Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, missed his entire rookie season after suffering a Lisfranc injury during a Pro-Am event last summer. His rehab appears to have gone smoothly, as he was able to practice with Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup and suited up for the Thunder during Summer League. Across four Summer League appearances, Holmgren averaged 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Aside from some poor three-point shooting, the talented big man looked to be at the top of his game.

Holmgren shouldn’t have any limitations during training camp, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Thunder proceed with caution, meaning minutes restrictions and periodic rest days could be in the cards during the 2023-24 campaign.

Cade Cunningham, Pistons

Cunningham sustained a left shin injury last November which eventually required season-ending surgery. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick returned to full strength this summer and practiced with Team USA before the FIBA World Cup. Cunningham was reportedly offered a spot on Team USA but declined and decided to focus on preparing for the 2023-24 NBA season instead.

LaMelo Ball, Hornets

Ball battled ankle injuries during the 2022-23 campaign and appeared in just 36 games before undergoing season-ending surgery to address a fractured right ankle. The 2020 No. 3 overall pick is expected to be ready for training camp and signed a five-year max extension this offseason, suggesting the Hornets are not worried about Ball’s health moving forward.

Missed the end of 2022-23

Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Leonard was limited to 52 games last year while working his way back from a torn ACL suffered during the 2020-21 postseason, which cost him the entire 2021-22 campaign. The veteran was starting to look like himself heading into the postseason last year, but he tore his meniscus during Game 1 of the opening-round matchup versus the Suns and was sidelined for the remainder of the series, which the Clippers lost. Leonard underwent a clean-up procedure this offseason and is expected to be available for training camp, but load management is a major concern for the oft-injured superstar.

Paul George, Clippers

George suffered a knee sprain in late March and wasn’t able to make it back before the Clippers were eliminated by the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. The superstar forward resumed workouts in May and is expected to be fully healthy by training camp, though he’ll likely be subject to periodic rest days throughout the 2023-24 campaign.

Chris Paul, Warriors

Paul, who was traded twice this offseason and eventually ended up in Golden State, missed the final four games of the Suns’ 2022-23 postseason due to a groin injury. The veteran should be good to go for training camp health-wise, but his role with his new squad remains unclear.

Steven Adams, Grizzlies

Adams sprained the PCL in his right knee in late January and missed the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign. The big man is expected to be 100% by the start of 2023-24. If he’s healthy, you can expect him to suit up regularly, as he’s played at least 70 games in seven of his 10 NBA campaigns.

Naz Reid, Timberwolves

Reid broke his wrist a few weeks before the regular season ended and was sidelined for postseason action. He underwent surgery in early April and should be 100% for training camp. The Timberwolves re-signed Reid to a three-year, $42 million deal this offseason, suggesting Minnesota has faith the talented forward will bounce back quickly in 2023-24.

Immanuel Quickley, Knicks

Quickley sprained his ankle during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus Miami last season and missed the remainder of the series, which New York lost in six games. The backup point guard should be good to go with no limitations during training camp.

Offseason surgeries

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Antetokounmpo underwent a clean-up procedure on his knee in late June and didn’t play in the FIBA World Cup. While there’s been no indication the two-time MVP is in danger of missing the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, it’s unclear when he’ll be back to 100 percent. Antetokounmpo may rest more throughout the upcoming season than he has previously, but given his work ethic, he’ll likely suit up as often as the Bucks’ training staff lets him.

Khris Middleton, Bucks

Middleton underwent a procedure in late April to correct lingering knee pain. He resumed working out in July and should be good to go for training camp.

Desmond Bane, Grizzlies

Bane is ready for training camp after having surgery on his right big toe in May. He signed a five-year, $207 million extension this offseason and will have increased responsibilities with Morant suspended for the first 25 games of 2023-24.

Julius Randle, Knicks

Randle underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in June and was expected to resume basketball activities in late summer. His status for training camp is currently unclear.

CJ McCollum, Pelicans

McCollum underwent surgery in late April to repair a torn UCL in his right thumb. He also dealt with a torn labrum in his right shoulder last season, but that didn’t require a procedure, just rehab. Despite those lingering injuries, McCollum played in 75 games last year — most since 2017-18. He should be good to go for training camp.

Grant Williams, Mavericks

Williams had offseason surgery to correct a left-hand injury he suffered in March. He played through the issue during the Celtics’ postseason run, though he didn’t see his usual playing time. Williams should be given the green light for training camp, but his fit in Dallas remains unclear.

Jarace Walker, Pacers

Walker impressed during Summer League but underwent a minor procedure in mid-July to remove loose bodies in his elbow. He’s expected to be fully recovered by training camp.

Offseason injuries

Minor

Scoot Henderson tweaked his shoulder during the Summer League opener, and his status for training camp remains unclear.

Franz Wagner sprained his ankle during the FIBA World Cup and missed four straight games but eventually returned and was a key piece for a Germany squad that took home a gold medal. He shouldn’t have any limitations during training camp.

Amen Thompson suffered a Grade 2 left ankle sprain during Summer League and was given a two-to-three-week return timeline, so he should be good to go for training camp.

Ochai Agbaji dealt with back soreness during Summer League but should be fine for training camp.

Jock Landale suffered an ankle injury playing for Australia during the FIBA World Cup but is expected to be a full participant to start training camp.

Serious

Kristaps Porzingis missed the FIBA World Cup due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot and will undergo a four-to-six-week rehab program. He’s expected to be ready for training camp, though it could be an ongoing issue during 2023-24.

Trey Murphy suffered a meniscus injury during an offseason workout. He underwent a successful partial meniscectomy and got a biologic injection in his left knee in early September. Murphy was given a 10-to-12-week return timeline for basketball activities, but it may be even longer before he’s cleared for game action.

Out for Season

Lonzo Ball is slated to miss back-to-back seasons due to a lingering knee injury. He underwent a cartilage transplant surgery in March and is hopeful that his NBA career isn’t over.

Brandon Clarke tore his Achilles in March and is unlikely to play during the 2023-24 campaign.

Montrezl Harrell tore his ACL and meniscus during an offseason workout and underwent surgery in late August.

Others

Domantas Sabonis didn’t need surgery for a thumb issue that lingered last year. He spent the summer rehabbing and should be good to go for training camp.

Tyler Herro suffered a hand injury during Game 1 of Miami’s opening-round series versus Milwaukee. He was eventually cleared for Game 5 of the NBA Finals but never saw the court as the Heat were knocked off by Denver. Herro should be full go for training camp.

Malcolm Brogdon suffered a shoulder injury in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and may need surgery. He was mentioned in trade talks this offseason, but teams were hesitant to trade for him because of the injury. Brogdon’s status moving forward remains unclear.

Deni Avdija skipped the FIBA World Cup to manage a hip injury. He was also sidelined for the final four games of last year with elbow bursitis, but there’s been no indication that either injury will impact his availability for training camp.

Jonathan Issac missed the start of 2022-23 while recovering from a torn ACL and appeared in just 11 games before undergoing season-ending surgery in March to repair a torn left adductor muscle. He should be ready for the start of 2023-24, but the oft-injured forward will likely be monitored closely and limited often.

Tanking

The following players missed time at the end of 2022-23 due to minor injuries, but their respective teams were also fighting for lottery positions, suggesting some of them may not have really been injured at all.

Spurs:

Devin Vassell - missed final seven due to knee injury

Keldon Johnson - missed four of last five due to foot injury

Jeremy Sochan - missed final nine with lingering knee pain

Trail Blazers:

Damian Lillard - missed final 10 due to calf injury, then demanded trade this offseason

Jusuf Nurkic - missed final 10 due to knee injury

Jerami Grant - missed final 14 due to left quad contusion, signed five-year, $160 million extension this offseason

Jazz:

Lauri Markkanen - missed nine of last 12 games, including final four, with hand injury

Walker Kessler - missed final four games with concussion

Collin Sexton - missed 21 of final 22 games due to hamstring injury

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