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Dec 28

Getting Off On The Wrong Knee – Russell Westbrook Injury Update

By now you’ve definitely heard; so here we are with a Russell Westbrook injury update.

Less than two months after Westbrook returned early from the right meniscus tear he suffered in the playoffs in April, he is sidelined yet again with an injury in the same knee. This setback could keep him out until the end of February, after the All-Star weekend, according to talk around the league.

Here’s what we know for sure about the injury thus far. It hasn’t been reported that Westbrook has re-torn his lateral meniscus or that he is even in any real pain; the consulting physician simply stated that there was an “area of concern that had not been previously detected”, which leaves us with about as much certainty as a lottery ticket. What is certain, however, is that there was enough of a problem, visually, for medical specialists to recommend another arthroscopic surgery.

From what we can gather, the swelling in his knee had grown significantly since his return. This news has its good and bad aspects to it. The good news is that he doesn’t seem to have torn his meniscus again. The bad news is, apparently he’s had more lingering issues with his knee than we’ve been led to believe. Would it have done him some good had he taken a little more time off to heal? It’s quite possible. We saw what happened to Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, although that’s not to say those situations are synonymous with Westbrook’s. That’s like calling a lemon a lime. Sure, they’re both sour, but I want a lime in my rum, not a lemon.

So, let’s go with the notion that it’s not a tear; what kind of playing shape will he be in when he gets back? Well, back in training camp, Westbrook had the same surgery and returned about three weeks earlier than he was expected to with that setback. When he came back against the Suns in early November, he made 5 of 16 shots and sank 11 free throws for 21 points. He played 33 minutes and produced a pretty solid game for having come off of an injury that required two surgeries. If the same logic is applied to his most recent surgery, he should come back into his usual powerhouse self. After all, he did just come off one of the best games of the season with a trip-dub against the New York Knicks on Christmas. Oh and not to mention, he was 13th in the league in scoring, averaging over 21 points per game in just 25 games played.

So, what’s the underlying solution I’m alluding to here? Despite a 4 for 19 shooting night against the Bobcats, Reggie Jackson should be owned in every league right now. No, he’s not Russell Westbrook, but Jackson was already fantasy worthy even when Westbrook was in the lineup. With him out, that’s around 18 shots per game to be allocated to the rest of the squad. As of now, Jackson is averaging 12.5 points, 3.8 boards, 3.4 assists and 0.7 steals per game, and that’s with Westbrook around. If we hang a left on memory lane to last year after Westbrook was hurt in the playoffs, Jackson had six games of at least 15 points and averaged almost 14 per game during that time. Jackson started last night in Charlotte and played 30 minutes. His shooting percentage was horrible at 21 percent, but the 19 attempts were a season high and his six rebounds were the second most he grabbed in a game all season.

Reggie Jackson averaged 5 rebounds and 3.6 assists while Westbrook was out during the playoffs last season. – Photo (Troy Taormina – USA Today Sports)

What’s even better are his matchups in week 10. He plays Portland, Brooklyn and Minnesota to start, who are all allowing over 40 fantasy point per game to opposing point guards. It’d be wise to note that’s well above the league average. He finishes the week against the Celtics who are giving up about 38.5 to the position and to top it all off, Portland and Minnesota are both allowing over 105 points per game over the past 10. Reggie Jackson should be owned in all leagues. You might even want to consider building a time machine so you can pick him up last week.

Bottom Line: Reggie is going to be the hottest waiver wire pickup in the NBA and will remain a diamond in the rough until Westbrook’s eminent late-February return. Even then, Jackson is still worth a spot on rosters despite the playing time Derek Fisher snags from him of the bench. Look for Jeremy Lamb to get an opportunity to contribute as well. Maybe you drafted Jackson and you have remained patient assuming Westbrook could have a set back – well good on ya! You are loving it now, but as of an hour after the Thunder rolled over the Bobcats, Jackson was owned in 45 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That number was 34 before tip-off.

As for Westbrook. He could offer as some decent trade bait towards the end of January. This isn’t me saying he’s not going to come back into his usual form, but if you find yourself with some depth come February, it might be worth it to shop the Oklahoma City point guard around

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