We all remember what it looked like watching the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs this past season.
It was painful.
One of the reasons for the pain, was watching a very fatigued Kevin Durant try and do everything in ever playoff game. He gave it a valiant effort throwing up ridiculous numbers, but it was’t enough and wasn’t the ideal situation in dealing with no Westbrook.
So now that we know Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of this season, how will that affect KD? Will Scott Brooks play him 40-plus minutes per night and wear him down? Let’s hope not.
The first thing we need to remember when comparing what the Thunder faced in the playoffs to what it will be like this season without Westbrook is that this won’t be the playoffs. These games won’t be win or go home. They won’t have the same intensity and the Thunder won’t be playing the same shorter rotations.
But Brooks still has a history of playing his stars too much, even when it was KD, Russ and James Harden all together. Brooks is known for playing Durant the entire second half if a game is close and the Thunder aren’t coasting to an easy win.
I think it is safe to bet that Brooks will play Durant a ton with Westbrook out. There will be plenty of games where he goes the entire second half, maybe whenever the game is close at all.
Now, I think Durant can handle this, at least for a little bit. If it’s him playing a little more than usual the first month of the season, and then he sees his minutes go down once Westbrook gets back, it shouldn’t be too harmful if at all hurtful to KD in the long run.
The worry will be if Brooks continues playing Durant huge minutes once Westbrook gets back. Then, I could see it catching up with KD.
It’s going to be really important to try and win as many games as possible without Westbrook. But it’s also going to be important to allow players like Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to develop in the early part of the season. KD doing it all can be cool to watch, but really isn’t in the best interest of the team.