On Wednesday, Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan reported that injured guards Victor Oladipo and Cameron Payne are inching ever closer to full recoveries.
Payne, 22, has yet to compete this season due to a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Following a creditable Orlando Summer League showcase, the Memphis native underwent corrective surgery in late July.
However, after a brief return, Payne re-injured his foot on Sept. 27 during Oklahoma City’s Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage. Upon opting to forgo another procedure, Payne was given a tentative 6-8 week recovery timetable.
Payne and Oladipo played in three-on-three at the end of practice. Next step is five-on-five. Light at the end of the tunnel for both.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) December 28, 2016
Billy Donovan stated the following to NewsOK concerning Payne’s measured progression:
“(Payne) went from one-on-one to now he's doing a little bit more three-on-three,” Donovan said. “This was kind of part of the steps he needs to go through. He needs to go through eventually playing five-on-five, getting contact, live play in. We're moving closer to that, but he's out (for the Grizzlies).”
Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo has missed Oklahoma City’s previous eight contests after spraining his wrist during OKC’s Dec. 11 win vs. Boston. In Oladipo’s absence, the Thunder has compiled a 5-3 record, while winning four consecutive.
Wednesday, in an encouraging sign, Oladipo participated in three-on-three drills at American Airlines Arena. During this session, Oladipo emphatically dunked a basketball with his injured right hand, however Donovan claimed Oladipo’s wrist “is still bothering him.”
This season, Oladipo (15.9) is Oklahoma City’s second-leading scorer. With Oladipo sidelined, eighth-year guard Anthony Morrow has assumed the bulk of available starter’s minutes at the shooting guard position. Over the past eight contests Morrow has averaged 5.4 ppg while playing 18.8 mpg.
While OKC has amassed an impressive 20-12 record bereft of back-court depth, the defending Northwest Division champions will sorely need both Oladipo and Payne as the team delves into a more difficult segment of its schedule.
Check back with WTLC for the latest updates on both Cameron Payne and Victor Oladipo’s recovery timelines.
Victor Oladipo will be back in uniform tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time of this update Anthony Morrow was still listed to start the game.
Cameron Payne posted this image on Instagram: