It’s hard to stay competitive when you’re down two of the 10 best players in the NBA. And indeed, the Oklahoma City Thunder have started the season 1-5 with Kevin Durant out with a foot fracture and Russell Westbrook undergoing surgery to repair a broken hand.
On at least one of those fronts, though, the future looks optimistic. Westbrook spoke to reporters on Saturday and seemed confident that he would get back soon. From Tony Sellars of the Associated Press:
“I missed a shot and tried to come back up and get a rebound and I hit my hand on Perk’s (teammate Kendrick Perkins) elbow. I knew I hurt something, I thought I dislocated my finger of something. I couldn’t tell until I got the ball back when I ran back down the court and couldn’t dribble,” said Westbrook. “I was already mad once I hit my hand because I knew it wasn’t gonna be good, so I was instantly upset and frustrated. Obviously, I was ready to go and ready to help my team go out and get wins, especially since we were down some guys already. It was frustrating for me, but it’ll be alright. I’ll get back to where I was at.”
Westbrook suffered the injury in the Thunder’s second game of the season, a loss to the Clippers. He is expected to be out a minimum of four weeks, which would put him on track to return at the end of November at the earliest. Durant could return around the same time, but it’s more likely that he misses time into December.
Oklahoma City have gotten past the worst of their brutal early schedule, and their one-point Friday loss to the Grizzlies but they are still slated to face the two best teams in the West — the Rockets and the Warriors. With the West as deep as it is, there’s a very real chance they miss the playoffs if they don’t make up ground fast.