The Oklahoma City Thunder got some disappointing news on Tuesday, as guard Russell Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery to alleviate swelling in his right knee and is expected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season. Westbrook missed most of the Thunder’s playoff run last season after injuring the same knee and having surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Westbrook could miss up to 21 games if he misses the first six weeks of the season, which puts a serious dent in his fantasy value and makes him a risky option in drafts. Reggie Jackson will step in at point guard for the Thunder while Westbrook is out, but should fantasy basketball owners pay attention to him?
Jackson has not seen a lot of action as Westbrook’s backup during his first two NBA seasons, averaging just 4.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game over 13 minutes per game (115 regular season games). But when he saw extended action during the playoffs last season, with Westbrook out for most of that time obviously, Jackson averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game over 11 games (nine starts) while playing over 33 minutes per game.
Westbrook may take some time to get to full strength once he does return to action, so Jackson could maintain a prominent role as a sixth man for Oklahoma City for most of the season. At the very least Jackson should get ample opportunities to score in Westbrook’s role as a primary offensive option next to Kevin Durant, which puts him in line for an occasional big game and gives him nice upside in fantasy leagues during the early part of the season. Handcuffs are typically unique to fantasy football, but fantasy owners that take the risk and draft Westbrook should consider using a late-round pick on Jackson.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.