The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced that star point guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season as he continues to recover from the torn meniscus he suffered in last season’s playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Westbrook needed an additional athroscopic surgery Tuesday to reduce the swelling in his knee.
Westbrook had the best season of his career last season, averaging 23.2 PPG and 7.4 APG. Unfortunately, his injury in the playoffs completely derailed the Thunder’s title hopes.
This latest news should not concern the Thunder or their fans, however. The Thunder are focused on where they are going to be at the end of the season, not the beginning. There is certainly a chance that a slow start to the season could cost them the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but that is a very small price to pay for knowing Westbrook is 100% when he returns.
Reggie Jackson will take on an increased role while Westbrook is out, and he looked like a capable replacement last postseason when he averaged 13.9 PPG and 3.6 APG. Jackson is similar to Westbrook in terms of athleticism and dribble drive ability, and he should fit well into the starter’s role. Obviously the Thunder will not be as good without Westbrook, but there is not going to be a shocking drop off either.
Westbrook and Kevin Durant are ready to end the dominance of the Miami Heat, and they believe this is the year they will win their first NBA Championship. They need Serge Ibaka to step up in a way that he didn’t last season, and Westbrook missing time could actually help Ibaka become more aggressive and play a bigger role offensively.
Westbrook missing a month is unfortunate news for Oklahoma City, but it changes nothing long term for team. They are playing for a championship, and Westbrook will be ready to go when it counts.