Russel Westbrook will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The Oklahoma City Thunder have not announced the timetable for his return. Westbrook has not missed a single game in his career prior to this injury.
It is believed that Westbrook got the tear when Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley tried to take the ball away from him in the second quarter of Game Two of the Thunder-Rockets first round series.
Westbrook’s absence puts a damper on the Thunder’s title hopes. The team got to the NBA Finals last year, but lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. This season, they got the top-seed in the West and looked set to at least get to the Conference Finals, where they will most likely meet the San Antonio Spurs.
Now, everything’s up in the air. Westbrook is the team’s second-leading scorer and its primary ball handler. His presence alone puts so much pressure on opposing defenses. Without him, it will be so much easier for the Thunder’s opponents to just crowd Kevin Durant.
This injury should also magnify the void left by James Harden. He would have been the perfect replacement for the injured Westbrook, but alas, he plays for the other team now. Sure, Kevin Martin has played well in Harden’s old role, even replicating Harden’s scoring, but Martin is not in the same league as Harden as a playmaker, which is something OKC desperately needs now that Westbrook is out.
OKC’s other guards have mighty big shoes to fill in.