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Oklahoma City Thunder: There's one more thing the Russell Westbrook injury cost OKC

The injury to Russell Westbrook kept the Thunder brass from getting an accurate look how the team would perform in the playoffs without James Harden to help create offense.
by Berry Tramel Published: June 23, 2013

/articleid/3855695/1/pictures/2140996">Photo - NBA BASKETBALL: Russell Westbrook sits on the bench before the start of Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
NBA BASKETBALL: Russell Westbrook sits on the bench before the start of Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

“Let's face it, Russell's really good,” said Scotty Brooks, which no one on Earth now disputes. “He's not only one of the best point guards, he's one of the best players in the league.

“We have to evaluate what we've done all season long. Russell's a big part of what we do.”

There were some silver linings in the meniscus menagerie. Reggie Jackson played premium minutes at point guard and looks like a ballplayer. But even that doesn't help the Thunder roster-creation. The Thunder doesn't need or want Mister October to play 40 points of point guard. Presti would have benefited from seeing Jackson and Westbrook in the backcourt together against playoff pressure. That's useful information.

But does the Thunder need a third creator in the playoffs? Unknown. Does the presence of Westbrook distort defenses (Kevin McHale's term; I love it) so much that the Thunder doesn't have to tilt the rotation offensively and can stay with a defensive lineup, even against an elite team like the Spurs? Unknown. An OKC-San Antone rematch never occurred.

So Roger Ramjet cost the Thunder more than another shot at the Heat. Now the Thunder goes into the draft, then to its discount-rack free agent shopping, not knowing exactly where it stands in the post-Harden era.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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