Russell Westbrook

Ask a medical expert: When will Russell Westbrook return from his ankle injury?

Russell Westbrook (NBA Getty Images)

The Thunder are in the midst of a six-game win streak, but in order to continue their winning ways, they must do so without All-Star Russell Westbrook for the near future.

In OKC's win over the New Orleans Pelicans Monday, Westbrook exited the game late in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle sustained when he landed on the foot of Anthony Davis after a routine play on the defensive end.

The play left Westbrook writhing on the ground in pain, but according to ESPN's Royce Young, it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked. Young added that the X-rays that were taken on Westbrook's ankle returned negative.

So how long should the Thunder expect Westbrook to be sidelined? According to Dr. Michael George, Orthopaedic Surgeon at KSF Orthopaedic Center in Houston, TX, it's largely dependent on the severity of the sprain:

"An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together to give them stability - their prognosis is dependent on the severity of the injury.

A Grade 1 injury is a sprain of the ligaments, Grade 2 is a partial ligament tear and Grade 3 is a complete ligament tear. The severity is determined on physical exam and sometimes on MRI. The recovery can range anywhere from a few days for a mild injury to several weeks for a more severe injury.

Given the explosive nature with which he plays, [Westbrook's] ankle will need to heal completely before he will be able to return to his normal level of play."

In the seven games he has appeared in this season so far, Westbrook is averaging 24.1 points, 8.9 assists and 8.3 rebounds per contest and the Thunder are 5-2 in the games in which he has suited up.

At the risk of compromising his explosiveness, there won't likely be a rush to get Westbrook back, but it's clear the team can only go but so far without him.

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