The Oklahoma City Thunder were fearing the worst when reserve guard Eric Maynor tumbled to the floor last night, clutching his right knee, midway through the fourth quarter of the team’s win over the Rockets. Now the worst has been confirmed - the team announced today that Maynor has torn his ACL and is done for the season.
The team that gets seemingly no injuries has finally suffered a blow, with the conductor or our second unit suffering a season-ending ACL tear. The good news is that ACL injuries are much more recoverable than they used to be, though that's about the only good news. Maynor will be sorely missed, and we can only wish him the best of recoveries.
The injury presents some questions surrounding our second unit. Who takes the job of backup PG? We certainly won't be able to replace Eric Maynor, since all of the players we have left in the guard positions are play more in the vein of Russell Westbrook or Thabo Sefolosha than they do Eric Maynor. Royal Ivey presents an interesting option, but he's more of a defensive guy than a distributor, and he's sitting on the IR, so I doubt he gets the job. Lazar Hayward could possibly fill the role, but he's the type of guy who completes the scoring play, not the one who sets it up. After eliminating those two, you're left with the rookie, Reggie Jackson.
He did his fair share of ball handling in Boston College, averaging 4.4 assists in both of his last two seasons. But it's no secret that he's more of a combo guard than Maynor is, and he hasn't really spent any time running the point in the NBA. There's always a first time, but it's hard to see such a big responsibility go to a rookie who hasn't really proven himself yet.
However, there is another intriguing option for backup point guard in James Harden. Harden has been averaging 4 assists this year, turning in 8 against Phoenix and 6 against Portland. Though he hasn't exactly run the offense, it's not hard to see that his knowledge of where players are on the floor is much better than that of Russell Westbrook. Consequently, he's excellent at calling his own plays and finding the open man. But, he's already an excellent option at SG, and I don't know whether Brooks will want to move him down to PG.
To be honest, it's hard to predict what the Brooks will do. Maynor's loss will definitely be felt over the next few games, as the team adjusts to an entirely new man holding the ball. My guess is some sort of 50/50 split, with Harden and Jackson both getting time at the position. If Harden does get time at backup PG, though, expect Hayward to see time at SG, rather than Jackson. I doubt Brooks would have both Harden and Jackson on the floor while Harden played PG.
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