Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder underwent successful surgery on a broken bone in his forearm Friday morning and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
The injury occurred during the Thunder’s Thursday night game against the Dallas Mavericks. During the second quarter of the game, Kanter let out his frustrations by punching a chair on his way to the bench. However, he ended up hitting the metal part of chair outside the padding, which resulted in the fractured forearm. The incident can be seen below:
Enes Kanter has a fractured right forearm after punching this chair…
— Spark ⚡️ Sports (@SparkSports) January 27, 2017
Kanter was having himself a very good season before the injury. His 14.4 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game both rank third on the team and his 56.3 percent shooting from the field rank second on the team (unless you count Nick Collison, who’s only played 11 games this season in very limited, spot minutes). Outside of Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, Kanter was making quite the case for winning the Sixth Man of the Year award this season. He’s really settled in nicely as a sixth man for the team since permanently coming off the bench at the start of last season and has developed into a very important piece of the Thunder’s offense. However, this injury will hurt his case for winning Sixth Man of the Year and most importantly, his team.
The Thunder are currently involved in a fairly tight race for the Western Conference playoffs. The 4th through 7th seeds are all separately by 3.5 games with just over 30 games remaining. The team currently sits as the sixth seed in the West. With the load Russell Westbrook has already had to carry this season, Kanter potentially being out six to eight weeks doesn’t do him any favors as it figures to give him an even bigger load to carry.
The team is not necessarily void of talent, but void of many players who are capable of consistently creating their own shot. Coach Billy Donovan will have to reconstruct how his bench unit will now operate in Kanter’s absence, as they’ll miss his post-up ability, passing out of the post, and effectiveness in the pick and roll.
Kanter’s injury calls for starters Steven Adams and Domantas Sabonis to step up play bigger roles in the offense and could also result in an uptick in minutes for Collison and Joffrey Lauvergne. Or it could possibly force Coach Donovan to play more small-ball lineups, with Jerami Grant, Kyle Singler, and others playing bigger minutes at the four. However, the 6-8 week timetable for Kanter’s absence will make a potential trade deadline trade for the Thunder even more crucial as they look to keep up their pace and avoid falling out of the playoff race because Westbrook can’t be expected to do everything on his own, no matter how easy he makes it look with his barrage of triple-doubles.