The cavalry is finally coming. According to coach Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook will start against the New York Knicks tonight.
The three-time All-Star has missed his team’s last 14 games after suffering a fractured right hand in a Halloween loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Westbrook had surgery on November 1 and was scheduled to miss four weeks at minimum – Friday marks 27 days since the procedure.
Westbrook has no minutes restriction and will wear a brace on his shooting hand:
Though the 4-12 Thunder managed each of those wins in Westbrook’s absence, his return is obviously a major, major boon. Oklahoma City sports the league’s second-worst offensive efficiency – behind only the lowly Phildelphia 76ers’ mark – and is already far behind pace in the loaded Western Conference playoff race.
An important rotational corollary of Westbrook’s return is Reggie Jackson’s move to the bench. The fourth-year guard thrived with Westbrook and Kevin Durant sidelined, averaging 20.02 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. The Thunder will be a much more balanced offensive outfit now that Jackson will spearhead the second unit, and his below optimum efficiency figures to improve as a result of playing alongside Westbrook for stretches, too.
Durant, meanwhile, is still out for a few more days at the least. But with Westbrook back in the lineup, Oklahoma City can hopefully begin its arduous climb from the conference cellar. Step one of making good on preseason championship expectations, after all, is getting the chance to play for one in the postseason.
What do you think?
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