The Houston Rockets held a press conference for their newest addition. Earlier in the month, the Rockets traded point guard Chris Paul, two future first-round picks and two future first-round pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder for point guard Russell Westbrook.
The trade added to the Thunders plethora of draft picks for the next half decade and saved them salary cap space in the long run. It also reunited former Thunder teammates Westbrook and James Harden.
Westbrook and Hardens young careers simultaneously merged with one another. Westbrook excelled as the Thunders starting point guard while Harden enjoyed Sixth Man of the Year honors, holding down the bench unit for the surging young squad.
The trio of Westbrook, Harden and Kevin Durant succeeded early and earned a trip to the 2012 NBA Finals, only to lose in five games to the LeBron James led Miami Heat. The future was bright in Oklahoma City.
Fast forward seven years, Durant is on the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving and Harden and Westbrook are together on the Rockets. The story of the young Thunder team is a sad one with many “what if” moments.
As for the Rockets, the pairing of Westbrook and Harden creates many questions for the offensive scheme. Both players are top five in usage rate every season. Both players are also high-volume scorers, with Westbrook being an inefficient one at that. He is notorious for being a low 40 percent shooter. Match Westbrook’s inefficient scoring with the high turnovers and below average defensive effort from both players and this has all the makings of a potential dumpster fire.
A change of the coach has been in question this off-season for the Rockets. Mike D’Antoni’s three-point shooting offense won’t be as effective when Westbrook is playing off-ball. He’s one of the worst long-distance shooters in the league, especially given his low IQ attempts.
There might be a problem in Houston given both players quirks. If they can figure out how to manage turnovers and low-quality shot attempts, the Rockets can thrive in the Western Conference. If not, this is a team in danger of missing the playoffs entirely.