Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rest Required

This was going to be more of a recap of the home and 'away' games in Oklahoma earlier in the week, and I am sure it may get mentioned. The title was also going to be Walking Wounded but I decided that was too harsh for this early in the season.

Oklahoma City gets a much-deserved break before heading west for the last two preseason games. The Thunder definitely need it, as most of the team is hurting in one way or another. Star Kevin Durant is no exception, and his ankle will garner a lot of attention as opening night is in less than two weeks.

Even the rookies are not immune to the injury bug. D.J. White will miss 4-6 months after jaw surgery, and the Thunder will miss his contribution off the bench. If there is any bright side to all the OKC injuries, it is that other players are getting more of a look. One key example has been the play of seven-footer Johan Petro, a little used center from France. He was the team's first-round pick in 2005 but has seen fewer starts and less playing time over his three-year career.

The Thunder have penciled Petro in for a back-up role, but his play might be saying something else. Even with a sore hamstring, the starting center spot could be his with two more strong games against the Suns and Lakers. Petro has been a rebounding machine, and that type of play is exactly what the young team needs. He proved to be the highlight in the loss to the Clippers, notching his first double-double (12 points, 15 rebounds) to go with three blocks. More important for the big man was the 35 minutes he played, staying out of foul trouble and cementing a rotation spot for Oklahoma City.

If Petro does grab the spot in the middle, the power forward position is the last 'open' position battle. I will go more into this on Friday, but Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison will be the participants in the PF battle royale. Enjoy the show!

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