Kevin Durant will miss the remainder of the NBA season after undergoing another operation for a foot problem that stems from a preseason injury. Durant will have a bone graft applied to his injured foot and will miss the rest of the season and very likely the playoffs; if the Thunder hold on.
I recently bounced back from foot surgery. Granted I’m no athlete. And I DO NOT compare myself to Durant; not even in my dreams in videogame-land. But from my humble experience, coming back to try and compete on any physical level is tremendously difficult. Durant had some progress when he first came back, but the nagging injury was too much. It wasn’t a “Down goes Frazier!” moment or nearly as dramatic as Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in 2012. Durant has been the heart, if not the soul of the thunder for a very long time.
Westbrook has put up NBA2K level numbers this season, but he is still human. Ibaka has gone down and likely out for a little longer. Sure Enes Kanter has come in and played very well. And Dion Waiters is a good complement to Westbrook.
But Westbrook can’t do all of it the way he’s doing all of it for an extended time. It’s just not physically possible. His production is going to drop off and God forbid he goes down. I’m knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder hoping I’m not the jinx.
But superstitions aside, I remember a moment in recent NBA history that looks very similar to today’s box scores and highlights. The New York Knicks had Amar’e and had a glimmer of hope about getting into the playoffs. Amar’e put the whole team on his back and became a scoring and rebounding machine. Granted, Amar’e never played to the level that Westbrook is clocking right now, but the roles are the same. Both the Knicks of yesteryear and the Thunder of today are putting all their hopes on the back of a single player to propel them into the playoffs.
Let’s take a quick look at the state of the Knicks today. It’s basically a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Garden is definitely not Eden right now.
How about the Thunder? Waiters and Kanter are the supporting cast for Westbrook but neither are the weapon that Durant is or once was. Ibaka is there but he out for the time being.
The one thing that is similar between the two both then and now? They had one player put the team before themselves and play the game for the whole team.
Amar’e paid with his knees and back. He now has a bench role for the Mavs after suffering miserably in New York. Not to mention the wine baths. (I’ll never get those images out of my mind.)
I fear this sudden decline will happen to Westbrook; not the wine baths, the slow decay. Right now, Westbrook is the best thing in NBA daily fantasy. If you have him in your season-long league, that’s great too. But those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it and frankly this is looking like a rerun to me.
I admit it, I respect Amar’e. It broke my heart to see him succumb to the injures and fall off. I miss watching him play. Glad to see him find a good spot with the Mavs. And yes, I hope he gets a ring.
Westbrook has overcome a few substantial injuries this year. I understand he is a professional athlete and he gets paid the money to make the sacrifice. He’s also an incredible talent that must be on display. This is just the nature of the game we all know and love.
I hope I’m wrong. I sincerely hope Westbrook overcomes all of this and remains a top caliber player for years to come. Somebody shake a chicken bone and keep hope alive with me.
Till next time, try the Bordeaux and follow me @Deepdfspicks.