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Pokusevski’s Ankle Injury Raises Concerns With OKC’s Big Man Depth

Aleksej Pokusevski suffered another injury on Friday night, and the injury could spell problems for the Thunder paint depth.

Oklahoma City can’t seem to catch a break this season.

From after the NBA Draft to Friday night in Memphis, the Thunder have continued to be plagued by poorly timed injuries.

It began with Chet Holmgren who is unable to play this season due to a Lisfranc injury he suffered during an offseason pro-am. Lu Dort has been hurt, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed time in the preseason. Josh Giddey has missed time and so has Jalen Williams among a host of others.

Now Aleksej Pokusevski will miss time for the second time this season. Pokusevski first missed a couple of games earlier in November due to a shoulder ailment.

Then on Friday night in Memphis while OKC was closing out a week-long road trip, Pokusevski suffered a left ankle sprain and didn’t return to the game.

It’s likely he’ll miss some action, but the extent and the length of the injury won’t be known immediately. However, the Thunder lineup will miss him.

He’s shown immense strides at times in the beginning part of the season. The 7-footer is utilized as the primary rim protector for OKC when on the court. Pokusevski leads the Thunder in blocks per game with 1.9 and with the Thunder’s small lineup it has proven huge for the team overall.

The Serbian prospect is averaging 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game this season.

Without the 20-year-old third year player, a different OKC big will need to rise to the occasion, but the options aren’t deep in terms of choices. Mike Muscala hasn’t spent much time on the court and isn’t a true NBA big man in his playing style. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl while strong lacks length down low to be a premier shot-blocker or rim protector.

While both of those players will certainly help OKC fill the void for however long Pokusevski is out, which shouldn’t be a long term problem, both will have hurdles to overcome.

Jaylin Williams, OKC’s second round selection in this year's draft, could also see time back with the NBA squad after spending time with the G League Blue.

While Pokusevski isn’t expected to be a long term absence due to his ankle injury, his absence still raises problems for an OKC team who is just two games below .500 on the season. 

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