Westbrook Out, West Wide Open


VIDEO: Westbrook hangs a Christmas Day triple-double on the Knicks

The wild, woolly Western Conference is back up for grabs even more than ever.

Just when it looked like everything was coming together again for the rolling Thunder.

Just when Russell Westbrook was looking unstoppable and indestructible.

Just two days after Westbrook posted a Christmas triple-double in just three quarters of action against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Oklahoma City guard underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that is expected to keep him out until after the All-Star break.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman was the first to report that Westbrook had the procedure done Friday morning on the same right knee that knocked him out of the playoffs when he tore the lateral meniscus following a collision with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley last April. He also required a follow-up procedure to drain a fluid build-up on Oct. 1. Westbrook was not experiencing pain in the knee, but when swelling continued to return, it was determined that the operation was necessary.

Reggie Jackson will again step into the role as starting point guard in Westbrook’s absence beginning with tonight’s game at Charlotte (7 ET, League Pass). But that move will weaken the Thunder bench.

If Westbrook does not return until after the All-Star break, it would mean he’ll miss 27 games. That’s a significant portion of the schedule and could have a dramatic effect on the playoff seedings in the West, where there is little breathing room.

Once Westbrook went out last spring, the Thunder went from being a No. 2 seed and favorites to return to the NBA Finals to a team that relied too heavily on Kevin Durant and was bounced in the second round by Memphis.

In a season when there is a logjam of wannabe contenders at the top of the West standings, any small slip in the standings by the Thunder — currently No. 2 at 23-5, one-half game behind Portland — could make for a much tougher postseason road next spring. The Thunder are taking the pro-active approach because they know it’s more important to have Westbrook at 100 percent in April.

Westbrook has been averaging 21.4 points, 8.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds this season and looked every bit as athletic and aggressive as he was before the injury.

“You watch him and you ask yourself, ‘This guy is coming back from knee surgery?’” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks just before Westbrook dropped 31 points and eight assists on the Spurs last week in San Antonio. “I’ve also been a supporter of Russell from the start, but right now he’s playing better than ever. I don’t want to play without him again.”

Now the Thunder will have to do just that and hope they can hold their ground until Westbrook gets back.

58 Comments

  1. Mad_Mascot says:

    ..does athleticism lower the skill bar.?

  2. Mad_Mascot says:

    He’s this generation’s “Jordan”

  3. Mad_Mascot says:

    If I’m LeBron, I’m like: “What, me worry?”

  4. Mad_Mascot says:

    …So, the best role-players are today’s “stars”

  5. Mad_Mascot says:

    Today’s NBA stars are substantially, one dimensional..
    The “role-player(s)” work/play hard to hide their flaws

  6. dustydreamnz says:

    I wouldn’t sat the regular season is pointless. Qualifying spot is important.

  7. Ed says:

    I hate weak sports fans. ONE player is injured and now the WHOLE team has zero hope. STUPID. They(OKC) will do as well as they decide. Keep your weak opinions…

  8. The Angry Buddhist says:

    Surgical knees never fully heal. It’s a poorly evolved joint not meant to withstand the constant g-forces and torque that Westbrook or Rose create with their superior athleticism. The regular season is meaningless anyhow.Rest these guys until April.

    • HereHereBeer says:

      Hmm, to some extent you’re right. But, pretty sure Griffin still plays quite explosively after that reconstruction in his rookie year… Peeps are quick to forget he also injured his knee.

  9. Henyodawako says:

    I think players should look at how MJ responded when he got injured. He become a more prolific shooter. He adjusted his game so not to injured himself again. They what happen, MJ become a much more complete player.

  10. dustydreamnz says:

    I think OKC will go well without Westbrook. Sure it’s a loss but Reggie Jackson is a good replacement and their bench is decent this season.

  11. aaron says:

    some people dont use their heads its only to remove slim there no damage to the structure if the doctors russ or himself thought the surgery would do more damage in the long run he probably wouldnt do it but obviously they thought this surgery would best for his long term health and thats why he got it and we got kevin durant and a really deep team were stil just gotta roll along and he will be back in 6 weeks 100% and we gonna win the championship

  12. OKC says:

    Whats with this should OKC trade Westbrook pool? Are you kidding me!?

  13. Dash says:

    Add Al Horford to the growing list
    1. Rose
    2. Bryant
    3. Lopez
    4. Westbrook
    5. Horford
    6. ????

  14. allaroundballer says:

    If wade’s bad knee could help james, so westbrook. I just hope durant won’t going down too.

  15. Joel says:

    1.D.rose
    2.K.bryant
    3.B.lopez
    4.R.westbrook
    5.????

  16. Alex says:

    he’ll comeback smarter better faster and stronger

  17. Alex says:

    i believe he’ll comeback and OKC will learn to adjust

  18. you are all ... says:

    Time for a new orthopaedic surgeon

  19. OKC says:

    Seriously all of these people talking about guards style of play sound so foolish. He didn’t get hurt because of his style of play. This injury was caused from another player colliding with him and was in no way due to his style of play.

    I seriously doubt that Thunder will not be a top 4 seed after 82 games, but I’m not surprised people would think that considering how much people who don’t watch the Thunder love to count them out. Remember before the season started and how many people were talking about how we wouldn’t be a contender with Westbrook missing so much time (hmmmm i wonder if he might beat his posted recovery time) and how bad our bench would be, but oh wait we are battling for the number 1 seed and we have the best bench in the league…

    Seriously though I have tickets to the Thunder’s home game against Portland Tuesday and I really don’t think the Thunder is a better team than Portland without Westbrook, and I was really looking forward to their match-up on our court… At least Alridge is on my fantasy team =/.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Yeah, but consider Portland lost today at New Orleans — another close game. Now they have to play back-to-back at OKC? Ha! OKC should still defeated Portland. It will be fun to watch Reggie Jackson matchup in the starting lineup against Damian Lillard.

  20. tim thurow says:

    he is such a big part to the team. hope u get well Rus

  21. Roy says:

    What the hell are this people talking about regarding the playing style of Westbrook.. He didn’t reinjure himself people.. It is a post operation effect.. From the recent operation.. Its inevitable to avoid this consequences when you had an operation pertaining to joints and ligaments.. Learn some facts first before you judge the guy.. ^^

    • HereHereBeer says:

      I hear ya. Nobody really pays attention. Didn’t injure himself in the first place and the operation is precautionary. They kept the meniscus, which is far better for long term recovery and use. They’re being smart about this. Has little to do with his style of play.

  22. TrailBlazer Fan says:

    Nearly half the games during Westbrook’s absence are with the Eastern Conference, so that will be a big help. I figure OKC will go 19-8 up to the All-Star break. The downside for both OKC and Portland is that they will play their remaining three games during the absence, so there’s really no way of knowing how good either team is in comparison with the other. If they meet in the playoffs, the only benefit may be that Portland will have the homecourt advantage, since PTBs beat OKC with Westbrook in Portland.

  23. John says:

    If Russell isn’t back within 3 weeks I would be shocked.

  24. henriquebfs says:

    I hope he come back well again! Now we gotta see how KD will operate his team w/o Russ. I believe hell be down a little and LBJ can get advantage in the mvp race

  25. Caldron Pool says:

    On the other hand, in such a stacked western conference the Thunder don’t have a lot of wiggle room. This would be very unfortunate if this becomes a recurring, ongoing, injury. Durant is great, but the Thunder are just another solid western conf. team without Westbrook. It would be the same of course if Durant went down.

    • HereHereBeer says:

      Agreed, but if they stay afloat – as in remain in the top four – and Westbrook returns in decent time to get to full pace for the playoffs the team will be a contender. If such were the case, and on the bright side, gives more opportunity to Lamb and Jackson, and when Westbrook returns could mean depth is increased further.

  26. Ranger says:

    No panic OKC still got Tragic Bronson to lead the fast break lol

  27. Caldron Pool says:

    They might sacrifice a little bit of seeding but it won’t matter as long as he is 100% and confident for the start of the playoffs. In the end, you can’t get to the Finals without going through the best teams at some point – and home court only matters if a series goes 7 games, which is not the majority of the time. It will derail their season if he doesn’t come back in perfect condition. He is the glue for that team.

  28. marty says:

    A huge loss, in my opinion this is a top 5 player.No chance for a title without him playin at a high level after his return.

  29. Benjie says:

    They are all the same playing style with derick rose ,Aggressive and always attack the basket. They are prone to injury and it will happen again and again until this guys change there approached of the game.they don’t have self preservation and they don’t have patience. Westbrook if you wanna stay like Dwayne wade and win multiple ring you need to learn how to control your speed and attack mode. Learn how to play low post movement like wade and kobi Bryant then I could say you’ll have a chance to have a longer career . Remember Brandon Roy loss his career with his game. Just a thought.

  30. tracy lamar says:

    Up for grabs?Fran should be banned from talking basketball(Stephen A voice)

  31. zhiggi says:

    Oh man what a bad timing especially when their on a roll….hopefully he gets back healthy and keep the ever competitive western conference entertaining…we need competition and we need all those injured healthy and back to playing especially the eastern conference teams like the brooklyn nets and other injury prone teams….

  32. ? says:

    1. Rose
    2. Bryant
    3. Westbrook
    4. ?

  33. okc2014 says:

    I’m shocked and sad. Get well soon Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are much better prepared this time than when Russell Westbrook went out last April. The bench is better. I hate to say this cause I’m their biggest fan, but a championship? Not looking that good.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Don’t worry. Westbrook just had too much “swelling” in his knee. It’s nothing. It’s like the second surgery he had to repair a “stitch” in his knee. Nothing major.

      Thus, he will come back later and play extremely well just like he did at the start of this season.

      It’s just a precautionary measure to ensure he is 100% come playoff-time.

      He’s not injured, though.

  34. rio says:

    Just hope he don’t abandon his team like D. (I have no heart) Rose… Come back healthy Russ

  35. hopeman says:

    point guard, play like tony parker and chris paul or finish like rose or westbrook

    • HereHereBeer says:

      Westbrook’s injury wasn’t caused by his play, but by the idiocy and recklessness of Patrick Beverly. Come on man, pay attention.

  36. Raff says:

    bad luck with this young starts

  37. mariusv20 says:

    There are going to be 2 very long months for OKC

  38. Ase says:

    i hofe westbrook back in game with 100%

  39. Macky says:

    OKC is screwed. Predicting a 4 or 5 seed for them.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      No, they’ll still get 1 seed. They learned from last season’s playoffs. It won’t hurt them as much this time. When he got injured in last season’s playoffs, it came out of nowhere, and the Thunder had a to adjust on the fly.

      This season is totally different. Believe it or not but the Thunder’s bench is better, overall, than last season. Reggie Jackson has broken through big time and is ready to start at PG until Westbrook returns. Last season, he showed what he can do. Now, Reggie Jackson is breaking through big time. Jeremy Lamb is a pure shooter and, in my estimation, is the next Ray Allen. He’s THAT good. Stephen Adams is a solid 7-footer to help defend the paint. Perry Jones, in my estimation, is the next Derrick Mckey (for any old schoolers out there who know I’m talking about). :-)

      Plus, Serge Ibaka is playing better than he ever has before. He’s certainly improved from last season. He can post-up more and can use speed/quickness to dunk past you like Shawn Kemp would.

      Thunder will continue to dominate the West. When Westbrook comes back, they’ll make sure he’s ready for the playoffs. He won’t get injured like last season. Then, the Thunder will overwhelmingly dominate the NBA.

      It’s already happening before our very eyes and it will continue to happen. As hot as Portland is, OKC should still defeat them at home.

      Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are All Stars. If they started or played more minutes, they would be putting up All Star numbers, statistically.

      Plus, one thing that could be overlooked: I believe Thabo Sefolosha was slightly injured during last season’s playoffs. He’s 100% now which bodes very well for the Thunder.

      Defense wins NBA games and, even without Russ, the OKC Thunder are one of the best defensive teams in the entire NBA. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb and Stephen Adams are excellent defenders.

  40. sirsparhawk says:

    Westbrook costs them more games than he wins for them, this might be a good thing.

    • Ballet says:

      Are you stupid? Last year the Thunder were Finals bound, then he goes out and they lose to the grizzlies in I think 5 games. If he would of been in the Thunder would have bounced them in 5.

      • tool316 says:

        Yes, that is the only explanation… he is stupid.

      • sirsparhawk says:

        Lol yep, I never said he is a bad player but he is an incredible player but has the basketball IQ of a lamp post. When he goes 5-15 3 games in a row, and they win is it his impact? No, its team play, the reason they lost was because he was their second best player, going out in the playoffs brought forth a bench player as a starter, they werent ready. The only saving grace for him is the fact that he is unguardable.

    • HereHereBeer says:

      Perhaps the worst comment ever left on this site. You need to look past stats to understand the game. Spend more time watching Westbrook and you’d understand the guy is a top ten player in the league, and top four guard – check M.V.P ladder and consider he has been All NBA second team three years in a row. He was playing on another level before this recent injury, and just starting to show how damn good he really can be. His shooting percentage has increased steadily, and please do not forget the guy had no real preseason. One of the best competitors in the game, he hates the other 29 pg he plays against, and few bring the ferocity, athleticism and killer instinct than he does. One thing is not always mentioned because of his offensive explosiveness is that the guy has become one of the best defenders at his position, not to mention rebounder. Your comment got some response, so clap-clap-clap for that, but you sir have no idea about the game of basketball if that is your opinion.

      • sirsparhawk says:

        Oh also, having 4-5 games in a row where he shoots 33% from the field isnt what one of the best players in the league will do, maybe if it was few and far between but it happens so often that we come to expect it

  41. Freida says:

    When are these point guards who have major injuries going to learn that you can’t be explosive like you were before. Look what happened to Derrick Rose again. Kobe Bryant again and now Westbrook. They all need to adjust their game somehow. Rondo will be coming back soon and hopefully he won’t play foolish and re-injure himself. When you injure an area, scar tissue forms and it is not as strong as the original part.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Yeah, but Westbrook did not re-injure. He just had too much swelling in his knee. No injury, though. Just a precautionary measure to ensure he is 100% come playoff-time.

  42. dustydreamnz says:

    I think the West was wide open before this happened, Fran would suit theatrics.