One thing I always thought about the Russell Westbrook shooting too much in critical games situations is that the Thunder did have an Eric Maynor option suited up behind him on the OKC bench if things just got way out of control.
Certainly Maynor is nowhere near the athlete or player that Westbrook is, but he is as cerebral a PG as you’ll find in the NBA anywhere. He’s a pass first guy which makes some sense to have in a line-up that revolves around Kevin Durant scoring as much or more than everybody else in the League, and he’s finished each of his first two seasons among the top-10 in assist to turnover ratio. Maynor was averaging 4.2 assists per game so far in only 15 minutes of work per night this season, but now that season is over unfortunately.
These are the details on that from the AP yesterday:
Oklahoma City Thunder backup point guard Eric Maynor will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
General manager Sam Presti said tests Sunday morning revealed that Maynor had torn the ligament in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City’s 98-95 victory at Houston on Saturday night and will need season-ending surgery.
“Eric’s a smart player. He understands that position and understands that role because he’s been with it for a while with us. He was great with that unit,” coach Scott Brooks said Sunday night. “We have to figure out how we’re going to move forward with it but Eric is a really, really good player and it’s not easy losing him.”
Maynor’s injury is the first disruption to Oklahoma City’s 10-man rotation, which had been intact from last season’s run to the Western Conference finals. That gave the Thunder an advantage with a shortened training camp and limited practice time in an NBA season condensed by the lockout.
Moving forward the word is Scott Brooks plans to split the back-up Point Guard minutes between rookie Reggie Jackson, Royal Ivey, and even James Harden some. We’ll see how all that works. Regardless though, this injury will put more of a spotlight on the play of Russ Westbrook and his willingness, or unwillingness, to be a facilitator in critical moments. There’s really no good option behind Westbrook now, and it’s going to be tough pulling the Royal Ivey card down the stretch for any reason, especially in the playoffs.
This is also a real tough break for Maynor personally obviously. He’s a guy I’ve always enjoyed watching play going back to his Cinderella slipper college days in the tournament, and I hope he has a speedy recovery. Looking forward to him being able to build on those first couple seasons he had in the League just as soon as next season starts.