It’s human nature to remember the bad things that happen more than the good, but man, it seems like the NBA has had a bad run of injuries lately. The Russell Westbrook injury is the latest on the list. The star point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder has torn his meniscus and will undergo surgery. What does it mean for the Thunder as it relates to their playoff run?
The news broke early on Friday morning, really out of the blue:
BREAKING: Thunder G Russell Westbrook will undergo surgery to repair lateral meniscus tear in knee. No timetable set for his return.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 26, 2013
It’s a shock, especially considering that Westbrook has played in every single basketball game on the schedule since high school. One thing is curious, however. He was able to continue playing during the game, on that torn meniscus. Why not continue through the playoffs?
For those unaware, the meniscus acts as a shock absorber of sorts for your knees. One can play with a torn meniscus, even though things certainly won’t be comfortable. Getting surgery on his meniscus is generally a simple surgery, but one that will require some rehab.
I’m very surprised that Westbrook and the Thunder are taking the super-conservative route on this one by getting surgery immediately. Tearing the meniscus does hurt like hell initially, but it’s often something that can be played on for awhile.
The tweets are pouring from fellow NBA players who understand the heartbreak of having to sit out at this time of year:
Man feel so bad for my brother @russwest44 …say it isn’t so. Very few work as hard as he does.
I’m not a doctor and nobody knows the severity of his injury yet, but as a person who’s torn the meniscus in both knees, I can tell you that while the pain is no fun, it is something that you can play through. Westbrook showed us he could play through it. The injury happened in the second quarter and Westbrook ended up logging 37 minutes in the game.
If the Thunder were in a different spot as a franchise, say they weren’t going to be together for another three years, would Westbrook fight through it in his quest to win a championship?
Regardless, the Thunder will have to move on without their starting point guard for the time being. I can tell you the Thunder are wishing they didn’t trade Eric Maynor away right now.
It’s going to be a combination of Reggie Jackson and and Derek Fisher at the point. Against the Rockets, it’s not really going to matter. In round two, against either the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies, it’s going to be a big problem.
Both Chris Paul and Mike Conley Jr. will have an enormous mismatch. While Kevin Durant is the second best player in the NBA, he’s not a lone wolf kind of guy. He plays off of Westbrook’s energy and his explosiveness towards the basket opens up the perimeter.
Without the threat of Westbrook, teams will key more on Durant than they ever have. Durant recently said he was “tired of being second.”
Well, this will be his chance to really shine. The spotlight is all his and the defense will be keying on him non-stop. Similar to how Michael Jordan faced double-teams the vast majority of his career, Durant will see the same without Westbrook. Will he rise to the challenge?