Before Russell Westbrook returned from injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder were 1-1 and clearly needed his presence on the court. Since his return the Thunder have gone 12-3. Still, some would question whether Westbrook is hurting or helping his team early on. Judging by his struggles in some games and heroism in others you could make a solid case for either.
So far, Westbrook is shooting below 40 percent from the field while averaging almost four turnovers per game. It is evident that his slide in production is hurting in some ways. Still, do not forget how valuable he has been when Durant has struggled. He has also been captain clutch for the Thunder — no one will ever forget the buzzer-beater that sent the Golden State Warriors home in shock.
It would be a tough decision to make, but ultimately I believe the Thunder should reevaluate Westbrook’s time on the court as he physically and mentally continues to recover from two knee-surgeries. There is no doubt in my mind that will he will find the superstar within sooner rather than later, but overplaying him may have already cost this team a few games.
While Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb continue to blossom the Thunder have a grand opportunity to sit Westbrook for extended periods. It would also give the two backups more time and experience on the floor which will only benefit the team in the end. They have not totally ignored the matter — Westbrook was held out of a game against the Utah Jazz a few weeks back so that he could get some much-needed rest.
The Thunder have another road-game tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans. I think it’d be in the team’s best interest to sit Westbrook out this one because they have tougher game ahead this Sunday at home against the 17-2 Indiana Pacers. They will need every bit of energy Westbrook has if they want to win that game. The NBA season is a marathon game of chess — we will just have to wait and see what move OKC makes next.