For the first time since training camp started, the Thunder had its full complement of players for at least a portion of Monday’s practice.
Kendrick Perkins, returning from a dislocated left ring finger, was back and is expected to play Tuesday against Phoenix. But the headliner was All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who participated in on-court drills with the team for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery earlier this month.
“There were bits and pieces where Russell participated in practice, so that was good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”
In recent weeks, Westbrook has been seen on the court during the portion of practice open to the media, going through light workouts with the Thunder training staff.
But on Monday, he apparently amped it up. And even in that brief setting, Reggie Jackson, the man who is replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup, seemed to be impressed.
“Oh, man. Russell today…” Jackson said when asked how Westbrook looked, cracking a sly smile. “It’s actually funny. My brother and his brother talk a little before games. His brother told mine that Russell’s probably bouncing better than ever. I had to see it to believe it. One of the dunks (today), he went up and looked like the old Russell, plus some, head at the rim. We’ll be happy when he gets back fully healthy, but it’s good to see him with a smile on his face, being about the team, bouncing back and happy to be back on the court.”
Publicly, OKC’s front office will likely remain cautious in speeding up the timetable or expectations for Westbrook, as they have maintained a understandably cautious stance with their 25-year-old star.
But Jackson’s comments seem to be a promising indication of how Westbrook is coming along.
“He’s doing drill work, not necessarily too much contact,” Jackson continued. “His approach is to get better every day, rehab. He’s been the ultimate professional when it comes to that, so we’ll be happy when he gets back. We want him to have a speedy recovery, but most importantly a full recovery.”