Since returning in February after undergoing a second procedure on his knee, Russell Westbrook has been on a relatively strict minutes-limit from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s played over 30 minutes just once since coming back to action and has recently been sitting in at least one game of back-to-back sets.
While it might seem like the Thunder are priming Westbrook to increase his workload when the 2014 NBA Playoffs roll around, that might not entirely be the case. According to a report from Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, OKC head coach Scott Brooks said that he’s unsure if that minutes-limit will go away at the start of the postseason and that it’s something that the team still has to evaluate moving forward.
Obviously the Thunder will want to have Westbrook on the floor as much as possible in the playoffs. Westbrook is one of the most unique and devastating players in the entire league. However, he’s only fully at that level when he’s 100 percent healthy and confident in his physical capabilities.
If the Thunder were to place a minutes-cap on Westbrook going into the postseason, you’d have to expect that it would be only for the first round and not much more. Though the Western Conference is incredibly deep and talented, the Thunder led by Kevin Durant should be able to advance without Westbrook being fully unleashed.
The luxury that arises from having Durant and him being at the level he has been this season is that a minutes-restriction for Westbrook won’t be hugely detrimental to the Thunder if it does extend into the postseason. The key is finding the right time to lift the restriction, which I suspect would be after they get out of the first round.