Thunder Lose Russell Westbrook to Broken Hand
The Oklahoma City Thunder already had to figure out a way to play competitive basketball without superstar Kevin Durant. Now they’ll have to find a way to keep up with opponents without star point guard Russell Westbrook, too.
Per reports, Westbrook could be out from anywhere between 4-8 weeks after suffering a hand fracture in Thursday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. When positioning for a rebound, Westbrook visibly experienced some discomfort and exited the court immediately to head for the lockerroom.
Westbrook would not return and the diagnosis soon after was a broken right hand. Sebastian Telfair is expected to start in place of Westbrook until Reggie Jackson (ankle) can make his return from an injury of his own.
Not only are Thunder players dropping like flies, but the losses are quickly piling up, as well. A Thunder team that was supposed to compete for a trip to the NBA Finals this year is suddenly in an 0-2 hole and their immediate fortunes aren’t looking great.
Without both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, it will be interesting to see just how big of a hole the Thunder dig themselves early in the year. With playoff seeding and home court advantage being a key component of any playoff run, a spot outside of the top four seeds could run a deep Thunder playoff journey before it even begins.
To the Rescue?
While Serge Ibaka will take on a bigger role in the offense and Reggie Jackson’s return should be helpful, the scoring load could ultimately fall on usual reserve, Perry Jones. The former Baylor star stepped up in a big way after Westbrook went down on Thursday, as he dropped in a career high 32 points.
Jones has the ability to score in bunches and with Durant and Westbrook both sidelined for at least the next month, he may be called upon early and often to do just that.
No Sure Thing
If Jones, Ibaka and Jackson can’t do enough to keep the Thunder competitive, however, it’s worth wondering just how low OKC could sink. Without their two best players for up to or over 20 games, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could miss the playoffs in a tough Western Conference, altogether. At least for the moment, everyone should be pumping the breaks on any bets placing the Thunder in this year’s NBA Finals.
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