After an eventful media day, the Oklahoma City Thunder got news that their All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook will miss the four to six weeks of the NBA season due to knee surgery. I’ll let ESPN explain that in detail:
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first four to six weeks of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday.
The team announced that Westbrook needed the operation after experiencing swelling in his right knee, which he injured during last season’s playoffs.
The three-time All-Star had surgery on the same knee in May to repair a torn lateral meniscus.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti said that the swelling in Westbrook’s knee was caused by a loose stitch from the previous surgery and that Westbrook’s meniscus has healed properly.
via Russell Westbrook has knee surgery | ESPN
With every bit of bad news comes a glimmer of hope. In the Oklahoma City Thunder’s case they have to be extremely happy (or lucky) that this is happening now. It will give Westbrook time to get in game shape before the playoff arises while giving young players in Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb more burn and responsibility throughout the regular season. We know things won’t change for Kevin Durant. Instead of facing the Memphis Grizzlies for five straight games (averaged 28.8 points and 10.4 rebounds) they’ll come across an assortment of opponents, some good and some bad.
For the Los Angeles Clippers this can be big in regards to playoff rankings. Since the 2009-10 season the Thunder have posted a win percentage of 60 percent or higher and hasn’t notched anything lower than a four seed since 2010-11. With the new wave of players (Redick, Dudley, Jamison) and head coach in Doc Rivers, the Clippers have an extremely high chance to finish the season with the best record in the Western Conference. The Thunder may have been the Clips biggest competitor for the spot though the San Antonio Spurs can’t be written off.
Through the month of November the Clippers and Thunder were set to face off twice, once in Oklahoma City on the 13th and in Los Angeles on the 21st with both being nationally televised games. Without Westbrook the Clippers have a leg up in the talent department, one needed after the Thunder swept the season series 4-0 in 2013. If seeding comes down to a tiebreaker, the Clips should have the upper hand.
In the end what will all matter is if Westbrook is healthy come playoff time, but you never know how a few loses from the Thunder can change the landscape of the Western Conference. And the Clippers are ones that hope they can benefit from the guards short absence.