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Houston Rockets: The problem with Westbrook

With Russell Westbrook coming to Houston Rockets, a question arises of who between James and Westbrook will be primary ball handler and who will space the floor?

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Last updated: 12.07.2019
Houston Rockets The problem With Westbrook trade | Sports Social Blog

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Houston, we have a problem


Just in, after the trade that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook has been traded to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, two future first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and two future pick swaps (2021 and 2025). And you know what this means, the ‘Brodie’ and the ‘Beard’ will reunite again. Harden and Westbrook previously played together from 2009 to 2012 in Oklahoma City, reaching the finals as well but losing to the big three of James, Wade, and Bosh in 5 games to the Miami Heat and that was Harden’s exit. He turned down a contract extension from the Thunder and signed with the Houston Rockets to turn into the perennial star and MVP. Westbrook, on the other hand, brought an MVP award of his own in Oklahoma City.


Now Westbrook traded to the Rockets would be something to keep an eye on as to how it works out because it can go either way if you ask me. Westbrook and Harden’s history doesn’t stop at just Oklahoma as it goes back 20 years. Westbrook and Harden both grew up in L.A. went to school just 30 miles apart and would often play against each other on the court. They had the option to play alongside in College Basketball as well but Westbrook got an offer from UCLA and he went forward with that decision whereas Harden chose Arizona State. They have been close friends ever since and don’t have that sour relationship that Westbrook and Kevin Durant share these days. Enough history though because the real test is how will the Rockets put two ball handlers in a rotation that only needs one. Harden and Westbrook both need the ball to contribute and if history has taught us anything, the small stint when Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Rockets and was let go after just 13 games spoke volumes. Melo, however, was a little beyond his prime and had signed a Veteran’s minimum contract but that doesn’t change the fact that the Houston front office won’t make drastic changes right away.

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James Harden and Russell Westbrook


Either the Rockets could keep the same playing style where Harden is the primary ball handler and Westbrook is used to space the floor but I wouldn’t count on that. Westbrook shot a career low in three point percentage with 29% alongside 4.5 turnovers per game whereas Chris Paul shot a healthy 36% with 2.6 turnovers per game. It’s pretty obvious that Westbrook isn’t a consistent threat beyond the arc so he will have to rely on slashing inside trying to draw fouls with an and-one opportunity.


Or the Rockets could change things up and make Westbrook the primary ball handler where Harden, a proven knock-down three point shooter could space the floor giving defenders a reason to keep a track on him at all times which may, in turn, create a lot of opportunities for Westbrook as well. Westbrook isn’t Chris Paul; they have totally different playing styles. Chris Paul is more of a traditional Point Guard whereas Westbrook is an athletic Guard. So it wouldn’t hurt to change the playing style with the departure of Paul and the arrival of Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.


A lot of people out there think that this trade took place due to the disgruntled tension between James Harden and Chris Paul but some officials said that their relationship could still be ‘salvaged’ and wasn’t the main reason to trade him away. It was the Paul George trade that led Westbrook and Harden to create an opportunity of their own to play together which led to shipping Paul to OKC. And now all the pressure to make this work is going to land on Houston’s head coach Mike D’Antoni and his staff to compliment both MVP’s in their starting line-up.


The revised starting line-up for the Houston Rockets as of now -:


      Point Guard – Russell Westbrook.

      Shooting Guard – James Harden.

      Small Forward – P.J. Tucker.

      Power Forward – Kenneth Faried.

      Center – Clint Capela.


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