This article is part of our Category Strategy series.
C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers
It would be understandable if Trail Blazers fans feared the worst when McCollum crumpled to the ground with a left knee injury considering how snake-bitten the franchise has been with injuries. From Sam Bowie's foot to the knees of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, Portland has endured its fair share of impactful injuries.
Fortunately, an MRI performed on McCollum's knee showed all major stabilizing ligaments intact while also revealing a strain of a unique muscle. McCollum's official diagnosis was a strained popliteus, a thin muscle that plays an important role in jumping and running. The popliteus is located on the backside of the knee and forms the bottom of your popliteal fossa (the pit on the back of your knee). It is active during knee flexion (bending) and aids in knee stability. However, its primary role occurs while an athlete is standing with his knees locked. As the athlete begins to bend the knee, the popliteus rotates the femur into a position to allow the knee to "unlock" and begin bending.
A strain to the area can directly affect an athlete's ability to run and jump, particularly with the first step. It can also have a trickle-down effect on the hamstring and calf, making a complete recovery particularly important. Fortunately, the Blazers medical staff has become one of the more successful units in the NBA and will take the necessary steps to insure McCollum's long-term health.
Determining how long McCollum will be sidelined is tricky