Russell Westbrook has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery which will sideline him until after the All-Star break. This is a huge blow to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization but I wouldn’t hit the panic button just yet. The Thunder will remain one of the best teams in the Western Conference as long as they have 2013 MVP candidate Kevin Durant leading his team offensively. If this were the NBA playoffs then perhaps Thunder fans would have a valid reason to panic, fortunately Westbrook will overcome his surgery with more than enough time to get his swag back before the postseason.
In addition to Durant, the Thunder have two very capable players in Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. Jackson is averaging 12.5 points and 3.8 assists this season and is more than capable of picking up some of the load left behind by the injured Westbrook. Jackson isn’t as athletic as Westbrook, yet here’s a player who can create his own shot, unfortunately I’m not quite sure if he can fulfill the entire role as the second best scorer of the team. Jackson should pick up most of the minutes alongside Durant while Lamb could be the next best option coming off the bench.
Lamb is another high IQ guard/slasher who has a bit more upside than Jackson, he’s a lengthy player who could really disrupt the offense of some of the smaller opposing guards in the league. I would definitely bring Lamb off the bench if the Thunder experience issues scoring.
Over the next few weeks we could see the Thunder losing a few games as the new lineup takes time to adjust. To date their winning percentage is .821 and they play exceptional basketball both at home and on the road. Even without Westbrook in the lineup I believe the Thunder are a .700 type of team but their most significant challenge will come on the road. Overall, the Thunder will remain one of the top four teams in the Western Conference.
Its Not Over OKC Nation! – Chris Daughtry (Its Not Over)