Many people still believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite losing James Harden and Kevin Martin in back-to-back summers, will be in contention to come out of the Western Conference and make it to the 2014 NBA Finals. Obviously that’s largely because the team still has two of the brightest young stars in the game in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Many people are expecting big things from Durant this season. After joining the 50/40/90 club with his shooting percentages last season, many people expect KD to make another leap, which could produce some unbelievable results. Westbrook, however, stands as a bit of a question mark right now.
In the Thunder’s first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Westbrook suffered a knee injury that ended his postseason and that he has been rehabbing and recovering from over the entire off-season. Even with that, though, the details surrounding his return are still uncertain.
According to a report from Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, he discussed Westbrook talking about his return at Thunder media day on Friday. When asked whether or not he would be back when the regular season gets underway, Westbrook responded by saying that he was unsure. Westbrook also iterated that he’s still going through the routine of doing rehab on the knee daily and that he doesn’t want to rush anything.
Obviously the Thunder don’t want Westbrook to rush back either because of the potential complications that could cause for the All-Star point guard in the future. However, the fact that he doesn’t know if he’s going to be ready to go at the start of the season is concerning.
As was proved in the playoffs when the Thunder had to play without Westbrook, this is a different team when he’s not on the floor. Westbrook creates the proper spacing in the Thunder’s offense which allows KD to reach his maximum effectiveness and for other players to make things happen as well. I doubt Westbrook will be out for longer than a few games, if at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something for OKC to be a bit worried about and to keep an eye on.
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