When the reports initially came out that point guard Russell Westbrook was going to have a second procedure done to his knee as part of his recovery from a torn meniscus that he suffered in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder had to sigh deeply at the thought of not getting their star guard back until around mid-December, the initial timetable placed on Westbrook.
However, Westbrook caught everyone off guard on Sunday night when it was announced that he had passed every benchmark in his recovery from the second surgery and was in the starting lineup for the Thunder’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
As you would expect from a player that hasn’t played in an NBA environment since this past spring, Westbrook had some issues getting re-adjusted to playing at this level. However, he finished the night with a solid line of 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds, one steal and four turnovers in 33 minutes. He shot only 5-16 from the floor, but his trademark aggressiveness was there as he got to the foul line a solid 14 times, converting on 11 of those attempts.
Though Westbrook’s performance on Sunday wasn’t very superstar-like (which is far from a knock and is somewhat expected) his second game back could look very similar to the All-Star performance that we are accustomed to seeing from Russ.
On Wednesday night he Thunder take on the Dallas Mavericks. The obvious reasons why Westbrook should look better are that he’ll have some practice under his belt and that he’ll have had a little more time to re-adjust to NBA action. However, playing the Mavericks is going to be to his benefit as well.
Though the Mavericks are a talented offensive team, they are a rather porous defensive team overall. Even beyond their overall lack of defensive prowess, they are incredibly weak at the guard position defensively, boasting awful defender Jose Calderon at the point and a wishy-washy defender in Monta Ellis at the other guard. Against those guys, Westbrook should have a big night. Though it’d probably be safer to give Russ time to keep recovering and get his rhythm back, this matchup for him seems to enticing for me to not expect a big game from the Thunder guard.