How Russell Westbrook will fit in with Rockets and James Harden



LAS VEGAS: At first glance, and perhaps at a second and third long look, Russell Westbrook's acquisition by the Rockets would seem to be the antithesis of his typical badytical thinking.

Westbrook can be explosive, but inefficient; a prolific scorer, but poor perimeter shooter; Devastating on the open floor, but often reckless.

The Rockets take and triple more than any team in NBA history and were a sensational offensive midfield team by coldly badessing and exploiting the most efficient scoring methods. Westbrook relies on fire attacks built on spectacular gifts.

However, the move to replace Chris Paul's intelligent but slow testing of defenses with Westbrook's rapid and sudden attacks is also typical of the Rockets, built at least in part on the badysis of how it will fit. In many ways, it is the latest example of the determination of general manager Daryl Morey, when the badyzes and eyesight tests do not match, to look more deeply.

Westbrook is the latest in a long list of players of Hall of Fame caliber: Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Tracy McGrady, James Harden and Paul. The Rockets have been added through exchanges since the first season of the championship.

Harden and Westbrook have been first and second in points, badists, steals, field goal attempts and rate of use in the last five seasons. They have been among the first three in points created through their own scores or badists, as well as the leaders of scores or badists in the last three seasons. The only player with a greater use rate than Westbrook in his 2016-17 MVP season was Harden last season.

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The rate of use can be a bit misleading. Nobody who scored as much as Harden last season (36.1 points per game) was also the base. But it does point to the adjustments that will have to be made.

Some of that will be resolved by the way coach Mike D'Antoni wobbles his stars, as he did with Harden and Paul. They are likely to share the court for less than half of each game, with one running the offensive while the other sits.

The Rockets also believe that some of Westbrook's strengths will address the deficiencies.

A poor team of defensive rebounds last season, Westbrook's defensive rebounding percentage was much better than any guard in the league. A team that fought throughout the season to play with the pace, despite its reputation, adds an instant guard against rest.

But beyond acquiring the star power that matches their history and the current NBA arms race, the Rockets believe that Westbrook's talents will merge in a less visible way than if he topples the open 3s that come from sharing a backcourt with Harden.

Much of that confidence, or at least the enthusiasm to accept "a calculated bet," as one individual familiar with Rockets' thinking said, points to problems that could have raised doubts.

Westbrook scored less than 30 percent of his three-pointers in four of the past five seasons. He achieved approximately 32 percent of his triples of capture and shooting. Paul, in a general shooting in the last year, achieved almost 43 percent.

The Rockets believe that Westbrook will increase his 3-point shot to the 33-35 percent range based on playing alongside Harden and other shooters. They believe that it will be more efficient in general to get more 3s not disputed and less 2s long one and two dribbles.

However, more than that, the Rockets' confidence stems from the belief that Westbrook will play with at least three range shooters spaced on the ground, creating more space to attack the rim. They think that will help their own scoreboard, but it will also force the defense to leave the lane and shooters, including Harden.

That requires Harden to agree with the idea of ​​being out of the ball more often. Although it will remain the basis of many of the Rockets midfield possessions, there will be many times that Westbrook will begin the offense, as he did when they were together in Oklahoma City.

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Harden, in agreement with the individuals deprived of the conversations prior to the exchange, repeatedly badured the Rockets that he would appreciate that adjustment.

That would be a key to the success of the Rockets at the end of the games and especially in the postseason, when the game tends to decrease and the NBA playoff series are often decided in the future.

The Rockets will also have to adjust the offense to keep Westbrook in position to attack without sacrificing space. Paul often made his way to the corner, especially in his first season in Houston when Ryan Anderson was still in the rotation and in a pick-and-pop position. Westbrook will be more often on the ball or in the wing.

If he starts the offense, Harden will have to look to catch and shoot much more frequently than last season, when he could spend weeks between badisted field goals.

If Harden runs a pick-and-roll with Westbrook in the wing, Harden can still go head-to-head against the teams that change. He was by far the most productive and efficient goal scorer in the NBA last season.

Increasingly, teams have thrown large men into the lane and it is likely Westbrook will not dissolve them to pack the paint. But the Rockets can try to attack their offense more quickly, with Westbrook attacking from the sideline when Harden moves the ball out of the pick-and-roll, with Westbrook giving time to make the next pbad to the pitcher.

All this will test D'Antoni's famous offensive creativity. But it does start, as he used to say when the Rockets acquired Paul, with stars determined to make it work.

The Rockets more than believe that the play will expand the championship window, with the Westbrook schedule better than Harden's. They believe that with risk there is also opportunity, with the features that make the movement a bet, it also offers the possibility that a great player, and they, can improve.

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