This Sunday morning, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that Kevin Durant would be out 6-8 weeks with a Jones fracture in his right foot. Kevin Durant informed the team of some discomfort after practice yesterday, and they proceeded to discover the injury. The current timetable set forth by the team has him returning in late November or early December. That's in the ballpark of 15-25 games, depending on the situation?
What's the fallout? Well, on a personal level, the injury would make it very hard for KD to make a run at the MVP, and near-impossible to win the scoring title. In terms of the team, it's a really unique situation. The Thunder have never had to play without KD (or his scoring) for other than a few games. In fact, KD has only missed two games over the past three years, and only missed 12 games total over the course of his career. Thus, this stint of injury likely means that KD will spend more time out of action than he ever has previously.
In terms of the lineups, it's hard to say who gets time. KD take's up the lions share of minutes at the three, so there's never really been a ready-made replacement for him. Perry Jones technically plays the same position, but it's not known whether he's ready for major minutes (or ever will be). Mitch McGary's similarly nasty injury precludes the Thunder from going big, so it's likely that you'll see a two guard like Morrow or Lamb take KD's spot. The Thunder will need a scorer of some sort, especially if they plan on starting Andre Roberson at the two. The injury could also mean some time for guys deeper on the bench, like Sebastian Telfair and Grant Jerrett. Telfair might get some spot minutes as a third string PG, and is a skilled passer. Jerrett is more of a project, but can supposedly hit outside shots at 6'10", so that's nothing to sneeze at.
How the Thunder will do without Kevin Durant is anyone's guess. Russell Westbrook is certainly talented enough to lead a winning team, but he does have legitimate questions about his consistency, and it's hard to see him providing the rock-solid numbers that KD does from night to night. Furthermore, it's apparent that Serge Ibaka can handle no more offensive load, as his game is too limited for him to create his own shot on a regular basis. Thus, it's looking like the majority of the new work is going to fall on guys like Jackson, Morrow, and Lamb. Overall, I think that the Thunder will have the same bite they've always had and can still beat anybody in the league. But it's definitely going to be harder to close out some of the easier games when there's no leader to stave your team through the bad times.
All in all though, it's no reason to panic. KD sat out of the World Championships this summer to get some rest, so whatever happened here could have turned out to be much worse had he gone. And November is almost meaningless on the NBA calendar. By the time we get to April, much of this won't be more than a footnote in what's going on. Personally, I'm just excited to see how well Brooks can synthesize this KD-less lineup over the next few weeks.
What do you think about the fallout from KD's injury? Drop a comment and let us know!