The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season ended in the first round of the playoffs, again, last month after an extremely promising start to the season. One of the reasons for that fall might have been the team’s two biggest stars playing through injuries.
George reportedly underwent rotator cuff surgery to repair a partially torn tendon in his right shoulder, while Westbrook had a torn ligament in a finger repaired as well as a minor procedure on his right knee.
Injury derailed Paul George and Thunder’s season
Rewind a few months, and very few people expected the Thunder’s season to end in the first round for a third straight season. The main reason why was the play of George, who was a bona fide MVP candidate midway through the season.
Entering Feb. 26, Geroge was averaging 28.7 points on 45 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game with elite defense. The Thunder were 38-21, third place in the West, and looking like one of the few teams that could challenge the Golden State Warriors.
Then George hurt his shoulder, and the Thunder suddenly fell into mediocrity. The team went 11-12 the rest of the way while George, forgoing what would have been season-ending surgery, shot just 39.7 percent. The Thunder ended up with the six-seed in the West, and their season ended in viral fashion when Damian Lillard nailed a 37-footer over George’s outstretched hand in Game 5.
The Thunder will reportedly be waiting until preseason to give a time frame for his return.
Russell Westbrook was also playing hurt
While George’s injury was somewhat publicly known, Westbrook’s is a surprise.
Per ESPN, Westbrook played the final six weeks of the season with an injury to the fourth metacarpal of his non-shooting hand. That might help explain his widely derided performance in the playoffs.
Westbrook’s knee procedure was also described as “proactive maintenance.” Unlike George, the point guard is reportedly expected to be ready for “an aggressive summer of preparation for next season.”
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