The news of Russell Westbrook's 2nd knee surgery has the Thunder fanbase worried. All reports coming from the team had been positive, but suddenly at the team's Media Day last friday, Scott Brooks became noncommital about Westbrook's return. What did it mean?
We now know. The knee had experienced some swelling, so they elected to get arthroscopic surgery to explore why it was happening. While they figured out the culprit (a loose stitch), the issue has now set back Westbrook's recovery to mid-December.
While prognostication at this stage is risky since we don't know anything about either the Thunder or any of the other teams, we can still take a quick look at the Thunder's schedule and see how things might unfold. There are a number of teams that OKC still vastly outpaces on a pure talent level, but a number of other teams have caught up, and the elites in the West have been fortified.
The Thunder predict that Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks, which equates to about the first 15 games. I'm going to play this conservatively and assume that Westbrook will not return until the new year, which amounts to 31 missed games. There is no scientific way to break this down, so with a few exceptions I assumed a split when OKC played a team twice, a win against a non-playoff team, and a likely loss against a playoff team.
|@ Trail Blazers
|vs Trail Blazers
Through my very non-educated analysis, this would put the Thunder at about 16-15 at year's end. In the West, this is of course not a great place to be, but it is also not the end of the world either. The bottom two seeds last year, the Lakers and Rockets, finished at 45-37, and history indicates that the 45-48 win mark is a good indicator for a team to make the cut-off. This would mean that, for the remaining 51 games, OKC would need to go about 30-21, only 9 games over .500.
I tend to look at this as a worst case scenario, but as Z pointed out in his analysis, there are silver linings. If OKC can finally develop some of its young talent in live game situations, it will go a long way toward bolstering their bench, which is the biggest question mark this season. If they can bump their win total up to that 50-55 range, they're still flirting with a mid-level seed and possible home court in the first round. With a healthy Westbrook, a fortified bench, and a team that will likely be plenty pissed off at how the last year has gone, they could be primed to do something special.
More from Welcome to Loud City:
- The Implications of the Oklahoma City Thunder Losing Russell Westbrook until December
- Russell Westbrook undergoes second knee surgery, to miss 4-6 weeks of season
- Kevin Durant talks Dwyane Wade, Jeremy Lamb on Chris Mannix Show
- Reports: NBA Finals to consider changing format from 2-3-2, to 2-2-1-1-1
- The San Antonio Spurs' loop play re-imagined for the Oklahoma City Thunder