The excitement and intrigue around the NBA is going to be at a high level this Thursday, Feb. 20. With the NBA Trade Deadline looming at 3 p.m. on the 20th, there are going to be rumors, trades, and all that the deadline entails capturing the attention of the fans of this league. However, the excitement and intrigue likely won’t stop at 3 p.m.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat will face off on Thursday night in a matchup that many people would call a preview of the 2014 NBA Finals—though nothing is certainly set in stone. As if that weren’t enough to get NBA fans going, though, that game could mark the return of star Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
According to a report from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Thunder are “optimistic” that their point guard will be in the lineup on Thursday against the Heat. Westbrook is reportedly set to be re-valuated on Feb. 18 and, if all goes well with that visit, could be suiting up on the 20th.
We’ve all seen, heard about, or discussed the MVP-worthy things that Kevin Durant has done this season, particularly in the absence of Westbrook. However, it’s a fool’s errand to attempt to deny that the Thunder are at their best when their starting point guard is healthy and running the show for this team.
In his 25 appearances this season, Westbrook put up 21.3 points, seven assists, six rebounds and 1.8 steals in 32.9 minutes per game. He shot only 42.4 percent from the floor and just 30.9 percent from three, but his versatility and aggressive nature helped lead the Thunder to a 21-4 record over that span, so it’s hard to pick apart his efficiency numbers too much.
It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Westbrook to shake off the rust that he’s gathered while being sidelined since late December and also to see how the return of the point guard affects the role of Durant in OKC. I think what can be pretty easily agreed upon, though, is that it’ll be good to have Westbrook back on the floor.