As one of arguably the craziest NBA offseasons in history rolls along, it’s safe to say that the league’s best backcourt is now set. Following the blockbuster trade which sent Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets, it reunites former teammates and two top-tier stars.
Westbrook will team back up with James Harden, a duo which spent three seasons together before the latter was moved to the Rockets. Prior to the deal, Russ and Harden managed to coexist while posting strong numbers in their final year playing alongside each other, but only scratched the surface of their scary upside.
We’re going to take a look at the stats Westbrook and Harden posted during their three seasons together in Oklahoma City, with the 2011-12 season offering a small glimpse of what 2019-20 may look like.
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Russell Westbrook & James Harden’s Stats Together With Thunder
The first year in which Westbrook and Harden teamed up was 2009-10, which was Harden’s rookie season. While Harden averaged just 9.9 and 12.2 points per game in his first two seasons and logging 22.9 and 26.7 minutes, Westbrook posted marks of 16.1 points/8.0 assists and 21.9 points/8.2 assists over that stretch.
But both players improved their scoring marks in the final season together, even with Kevin Durant averaging 28.0 points per game in 2011-12. Westbrook (23.6 points per) and Harden (16.8) had career years from a scoring standpoint (to that point), and it quickly became apparent what type of upside both players had.
In turn, this is what led to the trade which sent Harden out of town. The Thunder knew it’d be nearly impossible to pay Westbrook, Harden, Durant and Serge Ibaka, but there’s no question looking back that the deal didn’t pan out for Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant’s Presence Makes Westbrook/Harden Duo Even Scarier
One thing that’s more than a bit noteworthy is that each of these three seasons came with Durant not only in the mix but leading the way for the Thunder. He averaged 30.1, 27.7 and 28.0 points per game during that stretch while attempting 19.7 or more shots in each season.
Even with Durant as the primary scorer and go-to option (for the most part) with the Thunder, Westbrook and Harden still managed to begin hitting their stride. While Durant’s presence was unquestionably a big factor in the Thunder’s success during the three-year stretch, all three players deserve credit for OKC’s 152-78 record posted over that span.
Now, the duo of Westbrook and Harden will be the focal points of the Rockets offense and it wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprising to see each player post huge numbers for many years to come. After a few seasons of the Rockets coming up short in their goal to win a title, general manager Daryl Morey swung for the fences with the hope that pairing Westbrook and Harden back up can push Houston over the top.