The indestructible Westbrook is mortal after all. After not missing a single game in his whole life, this is a low point in his healthy career. Westbrook had to have surgery to relieve the swelling in his right knee that was apparently caused by a loose stitch from his initial surgery last April. That means that he will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the NBA season.
So what does this mean in the fantasy basketball world?
Russell will miss 12 – 21 games depending on his return date. That definitely bumps him out of the first 2 rounds of your draft. If he is out over 20 games, that is approximately 25% of the season. The Thunder will most likely be very careful with Westbrook because they do not want a repeat of last year. Westbrook’s injury totally derailed their title run. If you read my first article, A Great Draft Begins NOW!, you already know where I stand on the point guard predicament. Everyone in your league will be reluctant to draft him, but it really depends on how the first few rounds of your draft go. If 3 dominant players fall in your lap on draft night, drafting Westbrook in the 4th round (37-48 range) makes a lot of sense. If he misses only 12 games, everyone else would look foolish to have passed on him. However, if he returns in 6 weeks, he will be out of shape, monitored closely, and restricted heavily. If problems linger, you squandered a very high pick. It is very difficult to give a concrete answer on lingering injuries, so it depends on how risky you want to be.
Reggie Jackson bounces his way on to your fantasy draft board. He filled in admirably for Westbrook in last year’s playoffs. He will definitely be worth owning until the former iron man returns. In addition, Serge Ibaka should see a spike in scoring and minutes. Aside from Westbrook’s recent setback, I like Serge much more this year because the Thunder do not have a scoring third wheel (Harden or Kevin Martin) like they have had in the past.
I have tried to give you the pro’s and con’s of drafting Russell Westbrook. It depends how much gambling blood runs through your veins. For me, I’m not comfortable drafting him until the middle or end of the 4th round, but you can bet that someone will pull the trigger earlier than that. If that person is you, good luck.