Welcome back Russell Westbrook, as a present we got you the two-time defending NBA champions to deal with. You can thank us later.
We had told you before this could be coming, but it sounds much more official when Kevin Durant says it — Russell Westbrook should return Thursday when the Thunder take on.
“Next game right after the All-Star break, against Miami,” Durant said of Westbrook’s timetable in an interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons on Friday.
Westbrook has been out since the day after Christmas, having his third knee surgery since the end of the season last April.
In his absence this season, the Thunder have gone 22-8 in part because Durant stepped up his game to MVP levels, averaging 31.5 points and 5.5 assists a game since Westbrook went down. More than just that, the Thunder’s overall ball movement and offensive play has been more fluid, there has been less standing around watching Durant or Westbrook making a play.
That said, remember the Thunder are 21-4 with Westbrook this season. If that ball movement stays with his return, the Thunder move from clear favorite in the West to “I’m not sure anybody can beat these guys” status.
That experiment apparently begins Thursday night.