When an injury strikes a team it usually leads to the question who is the next man up? The Oklahoma City Thunder is going to have to answer that question with the injury of their NBA MVP and former scoring champion Kevin Durant. This past Sunday it was announced that Durant will miss at least the first month of the NBA season due to a fracture in his right foot. This summer, Durant decided to withdraw from the U.S.A. basketball team to avoid injury so this come as much of a surprise to the Thunder organization and Oklahoma City fans.
Durant is suffering from a “Jones fracture,” which is a broken bone at the base of the small toe. According to Thunder’s general manager Sam Presti, the injury suffered by Durant is something that happens overtime and no specific incident that caused the injury to his foot. In a preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Durant was able to play 18 minutes. During no point of the game could you see Durant showing any signs of his injury.
Durant doesn’t miss games often. He has played in 388 games in his past 5 season and only missing six games which ranks 1st in the NBA. Durant is also 1st in the NBA for minutes played in the last 5 seasons with 15,064. The regaining MVP will be a huge loss for this team but like I stated earlier its next man up so who will step up for Durant’s absence. Forward Serge Ibaka has the star quality but he hasn’t played on a consistent basis. Center Kendrick Perkins is, never mind lets move on. That leaves the Robin to KD’s Batman point guard Russell Westbrook.
Being from California and a UCLA fan I have a love/hate relationship with Russell Westbrook. I love his passion for the game, work ethic, and intensity. I hate his decision-making, shoot first ask question later mentality, and fashion choices. But if there was any time for Westbrook to emerge as a player that can lead a team that time is now. Durant won MVP throughout his 2013-2014 season performances, but it was his play while Westbrook was injured that made him the clear most valuable player on his team and the NBA.
This 2014 Thunder teams doesn’t have any threats on offense besides Durant and Westbrook. Now that one of the most dominant scorers is down, Westbrook has to take over the work load. That doesn’t mean go out there and jack up poor shot selections and shoot 8-25 every game. Westbrook has to get his team involved and take over the game when necessary. If he wants to show the critics that he is an MVP caliber player that time is now.
Can he lead this Thunder team without the reigning MVP? Westbrook has to get away from that Batman and Robin label him and Durant has, and show people this is more Batman and Superman if anything. This is Westbrook time to shine. Lets hope this is good news for this Thunder team as they continue through the preseason. The Thunder’s NBA season opener against Damien Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers on Oct. 29th
Photo Credit by Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images
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