Presti said an MRI confirms a calf strain on Thabo Sefolosha and "we're probably going to be without him for a while." Says 4-6 weeks.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) March 2, 2014
Ugh. It's never fun to hear news like this. Thabo Sefolosha's been out with a few ticky-tack injuries over the years. A sore knee here, a a quad contusion there. But it wasn't until 2012 that he had been kept out for more than a couple of days. During February and March of that lockout-shortened season, a tendon problem in his right foot kept him out for five weeks.
Given that this injury is similar in it's severity, I suppose it's only relevant to tell you that the Thunder went 14-4 during that stretch. That's a win percentage of .778, compared to their yearly win percentage of .712. Needless to say, this team has weathered the storm without Sefolosha before. His defensive contributions definitely help out the team, but he's never quite been the offensive player that we need him to be. Thus, a solid offensive performance from another player can more than make up for Sefolosha's absence.
But this year's team isn't last year's team, and Perk's injury earlier in the month further complicates matters. Scott Brooks, so far, has remained committed to keeping the bench unit together at the expense of the starters. Steven Adams has taken Perk's spot, despite Nick Collison being the more seasoned player. Meanwhile, at Sefolosha's spot, things are getting even crazier. Perry Jones III, a 6'11" 235 pound mountain of a man, somehow was given the go-ahead to play shooting guard. He continued to play the position for huge chunks of the first and third quarters, with no obvious repercussions.
The arrival of Caron Butler might change Jones' status as a starter, but that remains to be seen. Butler is expected to be practicing today and in uniform on Tuesday, but the massive blizzard surrounding Oklahoma City right now could delay his arrival. Ideally, Butler will step in and take Oklahoma City's offense to a new level. Realistically, he knocks down his open threes, throws down his dunks, and doesn't make you pull your hair out on D. For a full rundown on what you can expect from him, be sure to check out KevinHFY's article.
A small footnote- Earlier in the season, when Thabo Sefolosha was injured, Andre Roberson was his preferred replacement. Roberson appears to have fallen out of favor. He's been given multiple D-League assignments, and only got token playing time against the Bobcats. It's still unclear as to whether he's above or behind Thabeet in the rotation, but it's also likely that both of them are strictly situational players.
Anyway, obviously, other Thunder players are going to see more time. But it's extremely unclear as to who will see more time and when, as there's never really been a situation like this before. All I can really do is break the roster down into three tiers, and explain how I think the Perk and Sefolosha injuries affect each tier.
Tier 1- Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Jackson
These players are the backbone of the team, and a good performance out of all of them virtually guarantees victory. Their minutes will remain unchanged, but their responsibilities become greater. Sometimes, they'll have to compensate for the weaknesses of players in tier 3, because Brooks like playing them together.
Tier 2- Lamb, Butler, Collison, Fisher
These players will likely see the most positive effects of the injury. They'll likely get increased offensive responsibility and play consistently over 20 minutes a game.
Tier 3- Adams, Jones III, Thabeet, Roberson
This tier is the most crucial to the team's success while both veterans are out. All of these players are still developing and have significant flaws in their games, and will likely see sporadic situational minutes. The key for them is to focus on the things that they're good at while avoiding making their flaws a distraction.
Anyway, that's all I've got for now. Let us know who you want as Thabo's replacement in the poll.