Friday, December 27, 2013
The impact of Russell Westbrook's injury
By Ryan Grace and Sunny Saini
Christian Petersen/Getty Images How much will the Oklahoma City Thunder miss Russell Westbrook after Friday’s announcement that he is out until after the All-Star break? Consider this, Westbrook and LeBron James are the only players averaging 20-points, five assists and five rebounds per game this season.
Russell Westbrook is out until after the All-Star break following arthroscopic knee surgery
With Westbrook on the court, the Thunder are averaging nearly seven more points and five more assists per game.
They play at a much faster pace and create more fast break opportunities, ranking second in the NBA in pace with 101.1 possessions per 48 minutes.
When Westbrook is off the court, the Thunder rank dips to 16th with 96.7 possessions per 48 minutes.
In the month of December, Westbrook and the Thunder were operating on all cylinders posting a 12-2 record before his injury.
Westbrook’s true shooting percentage of 55.3 was on pace for a career high in a given month and the Thunder’s point differential of +11.1 was by far the best in the NBA.
Kevin Durant will also miss his running mate as the two are the highest scoring duo in the NBA this season. Some of that scoring load will now be placed on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson who will be reinserted into the starting lineup.
Jackson has averaged a career-high 12.5 points per game and posted a career-best effective field goal percentage of 51 percent this season.
Much of Jackson’s success is due to his pick-and-roll efficiency as he’s become one of the league’s best scorers on pick-and-roll plays averaging 0.89 points per play (League Average: 0.73).
Which lineups work without Westbrook
Without Westbrook, head coach Scott Brooks will have to manipulate his lineup to produce the best results on both sides of the floor.
The Thunder’s most offensively efficient lineup, that didn’t include Westbrook, featured Durant, Jackson, Steven Adams, Nick Collison and Jeremy Lamb. This group averages 116.3 points per 100 possessions, the best rate among any Thunder lineup that has played at least 40 minutes together.
The most defensively efficient group featured Durant, Jackson, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Thabo Sefolosha who limited opponents to 78.4 points per 100 possessions.
The Thunder are 3-1 without Westbrook this season, but the numbers show they need their point guard back healthy to maximize their offense and make a legitimate run at an NBA title.