The Oklahoma City Thunder have been without star forward Kevin Durant for much of the season and are without him again, for now.
After his October surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot, Durant made his season debut on December 2nd, but he has missed another 12 games as well so far this season.
Durant has had a second surgical procedure on his foot and will be evaluated in a week.
"The good news is that the fracture itself is healing excellently and from what the doctors conveyed to us we continue to feel very good about the prognosis moving forward," Presti said (via ESPN). "But in the short term, as he's continued to have this discomfort we wanted to determine the best way to alleviate it while still promoting the healing of the initial injury."
At the moment, the Thunder, who own a league-high six-game winning streak, are currently the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and they are two games ahead of Phoenix and 2.5 games ahead of the Pelicans.
The Pelicans will be dealing with their own injuries, perhaps more significant on a short-term basis, as they will be without power forward Anthony Davis (shoulder) for up to two weeks. In addition, Ryan Anderson is out with a torn MCL as well.
The 'Brow has missed seven games this season and the Pelicans are 2-5 in those games without him.
On the season, Davis is averaging 23.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 83.1 percent from the line.
The only other player to average 23/10/2.5/1 since three players -- David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning and Hakeem Olajuwon -- did so in the 1995-96 season was Elton Brand (2005-06). Of the nine players, some in multiple seasons, to average 23/10/2.5/1 since 1973-74, none of them (aside from Davis) have shot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, the Suns have traded away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas to the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, respectively, although they added Brandon Knight as well.
In other words, it's going to be difficult for the Pelicans and/or Suns to be able to catch the Thunder provided that KD does not miss too much time.
Here are my Week 17 NBA Power Rankings:
1. Golden State Warriors (Record 43-10, Last Week 2)
2. Atlanta Hawks (Record 44-12, Last Week 1)
3. Memphis Grizzlies (Record 40-14, Last Week 3)
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (Record 35-22, Last Week 4)
5. Toronto Raptors (Record 37-18, Last Week 7)
6. San Antonio Spurs (Record 34-21, Last Week 5)
7. Houston Rockets (Record 37-18, Last Week 8)
8. Dallas Mavericks (Record 38-20, Last Week 9)
9. Portland Trail Blazers (Record 36-19, Last Week 6)
10. Los Angeles Clippers (Record 37-19, Last Week 10)
11. Chicago Bulls (Record 35-21, Last Week 11)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record 31-25, Last Week 15)
13. Phoenix Suns (Record 29-27, Last Week 14)
14. Washington Wizards (Record 33-23, Last Week 12)
15. Milwaukee Bucks (Record 31-24, Last Week 16)
16. New Orleans Pelicans (Record 28-27, Last Week 13)
17. Indiana Pacers (Record 23-33, Last Week 19)
18. Detroit Pistons (Record 23-33, Last Week 18)
19. Charlotte Hornets (Record 22-32, Last Week 17)
20. Brooklyn Nets (Record 22-31, Last Week 21)
21. Miami Heat (Record 23-31, Last Week 20)
22. Orlando Magic (Record 19-39, Last Week 27)
23. Utah Jazz (Record 20-34, Last Week 22)
24. Sacramento Kings (Record 19-35, Last Week 23)
25. Boston Celtics (Record 20-33, Last Week 24)
26. Denver Nuggets (Record 20-35, Last Week 26)
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record 12-42, Last Week 30)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (Record 14-41, Last Week 29)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (Record 12-43, Last Week 28)
30. New York Knicks (Record 10-45, Last Week 25)
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