D.J. White cleared to play

Darnell Mayberry reports:

Forward D.J. White has been cleared by team doctors to participate in full-contact practices and play in games. With 15 games remaining on the season, however, it’s unclear if White will make his debut this year or if Thunder officials will hold him out of games until 2009-10.

White, the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft, has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery to repair a benign growth in his jaw. White underwent the first of two surgeries this season on Oct. 13 to remove the growth in his jaw. Doctors performed a second surgery on Jan. 4 to take a bone graft from the right side of his hip and mend the bone in his jaw. He had a routine check up Monday and received news that he has recovered enough to resume all basketball activities.

White still has visible swelling on the left side of his jaw but has been an active member of light practices and shoot-around sessions, doing everything but full-contact drills. Whenever White takes the court, he is expected to add depth to the Thunder’s frontcourt with interior toughness, a knack for rebounding and a polished offensive game that includes a consistent jump hook from the left block and shooting range out to 17 feet.

“He’s very athletic and he’s very active, especially on the boards,” said rookie Russell Westbrook, who teamed with White during the Orlando Summer League last July. “He can score and bring people out to the elbow. He’s going to be a good asset for us, especially rebounding and blocking shots.”

Great news not just for the Thunder, but even more for D.J. It’s got to be rough to be shelved for virtually your whole rookie season while you watch teammates grind it out and you’re sitting on the bench in a suit every night. Especially with something as random as a growth on your jaw. And this hopefully means he’s over this little issue.

He can do a lot for OKC off the bench. He makes the Thunder a lot deeper and can add a very good physical presence in the post, rebound and block shots. People kind of forgot about him, but he was the Big 10 player of the year last year and a second team All-American. Dude can play.

UPDATE: White has been assigned to the Tulsa 66ers and is expected to rejoin the team and make his debut with OKC before the end of the year.

Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-03-17 15:30:30
That's great news! It's like we redshirted him or something. Next year, instead of two new rookies, it'll be like we have three. And we could always use some more diesel down low. Welcome back DJ. I'm looking forward to seeing you on the court.
Royce
2009-03-17 15:42:53
I don't *think* they'll suit him up this year, but they might just to get him some run with KD, Green and Westbrook. Just a way to kind of get his feet wet. I'm excited about him though because he really is a solid player. He'll never be great, but he could definitely be a solid banger in the post. I'm thinking a Udonis Haslem type player. That would be nice to add to the rotation.
me
2009-03-17 16:17:22
it sounds like he's in with the young guy clique and that they hang out with him anf like him
Joe
2009-03-17 16:55:29
People forget that our very own Nick Collison missed his entire rookie season also due to double shoulder surgery. He never suited up. He had to watch his team go into the second round of the playoffs without him. His shoulders have never been a problem since. Hopefully DJ will be able to put this behind him for good.
Keith
2009-03-17 18:34:27
Where is DJ going to play? He's never going to push Green for minutes, and he seems a little too small to really play center. Basically, it looks like he's a younger Nick Collison. A guy who can be a good, consistent backup, but not a starter on a good team. Is DJ just the cheaper replacement for Nick after Nick is traded/let go?
Vega
2009-03-17 19:40:12
I guess Collison could be the backup center and DJ could be the backup power forward.
rsr
2009-03-17 20:30:07
<a href="#comment-3596" rel="nofollow">@Joe </a> that's nice Joe, but Collison missed 03-04, his rookie year. He played 82 games in 04-05, starting 4.
Nix
2009-03-18 06:35:31
If Presti thought he'd be good...I think he'll work out great...Weaver has worked out nicely...and DJ was even better in college...
Kev
2009-03-18 07:10:39
we will have no idea if he will be a factor in this league until he gets several games under his belt . . . as always, time will tell . . .
geoff
2009-03-18 07:35:44
Play him. Put him into the mix and at least give us a chance to get excited about having him on the team next year. By having a lottery pick, the addition of Thabo, another first rounder, AND the activation of DJ, the effects of the end of the year activity could be huge. Look at where we were with three first rounders and DJ's future uncertain up until now.