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article imageOp-Ed: Thunder look for spark without Durant, Westbrook

By Jessie McMullen     Nov 20, 2014 in Sports
Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma City Thunder have struggled to put the pieces together with stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out due to injury.
The 2013-14 season NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, suffered a foot injury in preseason practice, while teammate Russell Westbrook suffered a fracture in his hand during a game in late October. Durant is expected to miss 6-8 weeks from the time of injury and Westbrook 4-6 weeks from the time of injury.
The Thunder are off to a 3-10 start this season and are last in the division (six games back) and last in the Western Conference (seven and a half games back). Not the start they were hoping for in what was supposed to be their best season yet.
It's hard not to be concerned for the Thunder 13 games into the season. They are digging themselves in a hole that they might not be able to get out of even when Durant and Westbrook return.
The Thunder need to do the best they can to win some games without the all-stars, but that isn't looking promising.
Reggie Jackson, who has previously came off the bench for the Thunder, is the leading the pack with 19.8 points and 7.7 assists in 40.2 minutes per game. Serge Ibaka is averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game.
Jackson and Ibaka are being forced to play heavy minutes every game and must produce offensively, something the two are not used to doing. They have to come out of their comfort zone as role players and become leaders, not an easy transition but they have succeeded in doing their part.
The problem is that the typical role players are now stat leaders and there are no good role players surrounding them. Players that would typically be playing for both the Thunder and the Oklahoma City Blue D-League team, are in the starting lineup for the Thunder.
If the Thunder do make the playoffs due to a boost in wins after Durant and Westbrook's returns, they will most likely be the last seed and face the top opponent in the Western Conference.
Only time will tell what is going to happen. Hopefully for the Thunder, they can pull off a few more wins until Durant and Westbrook return to the scene.
Durant and Westbrook are set to be reevaluated by the team doctors next week, which should give us a better time frame for their returns.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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