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Russell Westbrook to miss at least 27 games

Dec 27, 2013, 3:58 PM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Beno Udrih

Russell Westbrook has played in the Thunder’s last 16 games, which seemed like a decent accomplishment for someone who had knee surgery in April and again in October.

Westbrook was supposed to miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season. Instead, he missed just two games.

It took him a while to hit his stridehe was even a healthy scratch for a game – but lately, he’s started to come around.

That’s what makes this news, from Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, even more surprising

Thunder general manager Sam Presti, via Daily Thunder:

“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling. After consultation and consideration by his surgeon in Los Angeles, a plan was established to monitor the swelling that included a series of scheduled MRIs,” said Sam Presti in a release. “On the most recent MRI it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures, and it was necessary to evaluate Russell further. The consulting physician determined that arthroscopic surgery was necessary to address the swelling that was taking place. We know that Russell’s work ethic and commitment will help him return to the level of play that we have all come to appreciate.”

Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

This is a significant blow to the the Thunder. Even if Westbrook returns the day after the All-Star break, he’ll have missed 27 games, nearly a third of the season.

Though the Thunder are just a half game behind Portland for the Western Conference’s top seed, the Spurs lurk only one game behind Oklahoma City. Plus, the Clippers and Rockets, two teams with key new faces still jelling, are just 4.5 games behind the Thunder.

If Westbrook is fully healthy for the playoffs, the Thunder should be playing at the same level they’d be if Westbrook hadn’t missed time. Their veterans have spent a lot of time together and don’t need to acclimate with each other.

But if Oklahoma City loses homecourt advantage due to this injury, even if just for a round, that could derail the Thunders’ title hopes. The Western Conference so deep at the top, any edge could be crucial.

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Of course, it’s no guarantee Oklahoma cedes ground in the standings. The Thunder’s other four starters have actually formed a better lineup with Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City’s backup point guard, than with Westbrook this season.

With Westbrook:

  • Offensive rating: 97.5
  • Defensive rating: 103.2

With Jackson:

    • Offensive rating: 106.2
    • Defensive rating: 78.4

But Westbrook’s numbers are held back by his early struggles, which seemed to be behind him. And with Jackson starting, Oklahoma City’s bench is losing a valuable contributor.

There’s no way to spin this as anything other than bad news for the Thunder. The only question is how bad.

  1. RavenzGunnerz - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Man!!…

    – R. Westbrook, D. Rose, M. Gasol, K. Bryant, B. Lopez…

    WTF? really, WTF?

    Saving grace is that these injuries are happening early in the season.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 28, 2013 at 8:03 AM

      at least the Thunder can count on Perkins…… to keep on looking UGLY, that dude
      should fix his face.

    • bigmeechy74 - Dec 28, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      now add horford and beal

  2. tomtravis76 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Hope he comes back 100%. Westbrook is a guy I enjoy watching, try to always see the thunder play when they come to town. He and Durant are two special players, don’t think they will win a title together, but they are doing what they can.

  3. innovativethinking87 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Yep his career will never be the same. It’s pretty obvious this will linger on and on. Looks like the Thunders era will be closing soon. Durant will probably sign else where after his contracts up. Without a healthy Westbrook could you blame him? I wouldn’t. Sad.

  4. onlyavoice - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Melo, I mean Durant (same) will lead his team to many loses, but will keep on shooting
    & getting His stats.
    The Real OKC MVP, “Westbrook”, will be missed.

  5. adoombray - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    this is a perfect example of a place where advanced statistics break down. I don’t care what statistic you use to justify it, OKC is not a better team without Westbrook. Durant can’t do it all by himself as we saw in last years playoffs. even LeBron needed Wade and there’s nobody on OKC’s roster that is nearly as valuable to it’s team as Bosh is to the Heat.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      Those statistics are not saying that OKC is better without Westbrook. They’re saying that a lineup featuring the 4 starters and Jackson has been great – and that is absolutely true. But it is not saying that removing Westbrook entirely from the equation will improve the Thunder overall.

      I don’t think you’re going to find any projection system that will pump out more wins for the Thunder if Westbrook’s 21.3 PER is removed from the team.

  6. csbanter - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Raptors should explore a trade offer with OKC for Kyle Lowry. Okc would be a good spot for Lowry and it might net Toronto a first round pick.

    • bucrightoff - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Masai isn’t a fool, he’s waiting for the Knicks and get extremely desperate so he can take them to the cleaners yet again.

  7. johngalt1783 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Okay lets look a bit deeper into the numbers

    The other four Thunder starters are of course, KD, KP, SI and TS.

    Here is a breakdown of the PPP for Westbrook and Reggie with the other four starters.

    Westbrook
    MP – 280
    PPP – .998
    Opp PPP – 1.054

    Source is NBAWOWY.com

    Jackson
    MP – 58
    PPP – 1.085
    Opp – .805

    Okay so the Thunder starters have done better with Jackson than Westbrook howwever Jackson has played only 58 minutes with that group.

    Now lets look a little deeper to see if we can get some kind of idea of maybe why the Thunder’s other starters have played better with Jackson than Westbrook

    Jackson has played 58 with the other starters. Most of those must have been games in which he started. So how many games has Jackson started? Three. Who were those starts against? Minn once two whom the Thunder lost and vs Utah twice. In those three games the teams Jackson started against have a combine 29-61 record (incl Utah twice)

    Jackson started once vs Rubio who put up 14 pts (4-8 FGA) 10 assists and 5 steal that game. Jackson also started against John Lucas III and Trey Burke a rookie. So Jackson really hasn’t played much if any minutes wih the starters against any of the top flight teams or PG unless you want to consider Rubio a top flight NBA PG.

    Lets see how Jackson and the other Thunder starters do against the better PG in the WC like CP3, Lillard, Conley, Parker and even Lin before we throw out numbers trying to convince people that the Thunder starters are better playing with Jackson than Westbrook.

  8. jj871 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    If there’s any doubt that Russ will be fine ….

    Just remember that he recorded a triple double 3 days ago while presumably injured. So ya, I’m pretty sure he’ll be alright.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      If recording a triple double meant that he was going to be alright, then why is he going to miss the next 27 games? Maybe he’ll come back, record another triple double, then need another surgery.

      Nothing is certain when basketball players get knee surgeries.

  9. antistratfordian - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    I think OKC needs to take another look at their medical staff et al. Russ has had some issues previously regarding either their judgement or their skill level, and now they’re saying “it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures” – which I am not buying at all.

  10. drago2012 - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Thunder was never going to win NBA title with or without Westbrook. They are a very good regular season team, but when the playoffs roll around they just fade away. The real reason is no DEFENSE. Without solid defense you do not win the BIG games. Western conference title goes through Popovich and San Antonio Spurrs. Daaaaaaa BUUUUUULLLLLSSSS!!!

  11. drago2012 - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Rose by any other name would be called Westbrook!!!(:

  12. seanb20124 - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    2nd coming of Gilbert

  13. lhollis74 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I’ve elaborated on this once before, but here’s it is in a nutshell. High flying little guys, 6’4″ and under, (wade,Westbrook,Rose) tend to develop trouble with their shock absorbers(knees). Mostly because the shocks are tremendous and quite often.

  14. iamhoraceknight - Dec 28, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Hope he can get Healthy and fully recover.

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