Houston Rockets: James Harden, Russell Westbrook PG Future Revealed

West: No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 3 Houston Rockets


Matchup to Watch: Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden
Outlook: Russell Westbrook against James Harden is not just the matchup of the series but of the entire playoffs. If the NBA MVP race was like most years, fans would have the opportunity to see a "revenge" series by the loser of the MVP. However, the award will not be announced until after the playoffs at a special awards ceremony. Houston has won three of four games but all four games have been close. Expect Westbrook to keep this series tight as he is out to prove he is the best player in the league. Look for the Rockets to close it out but not without a fight from the Thunder.
Prediction: Rockets in 7 games (Getty)

James Harden and Russell Westbrook are now both Houston Rockets teammates.

Million Dollar Question: Who controls the Rockets’ offensive tempo at the point guard position?

“I would prefer James controlling the ball,” former Houston Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley tells NBA reporter, Landon Buford.

“And Russell being an off guard.”

Russell Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets this offseason.

Westbrook was on the inaugural Thunder team in 2008-09 after the team moved to OKC from Seattle. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, then proceeded to become one of the most dominant players in the league — and eventually the face of the OKC franchise.

After spending eight seasons partially in the shadow of Kevin Durant, Westbrook delivered three of the most dominant seasons in NBA history, averaging a triple double each year from 2016-17 through 2018-19 and winning the MVP award in 2017 along with his second scoring title.

“He’s very dangerous I would think in that off-guard position,” says Cuttino Mobley.

“It’s more going downhill and attacking guys.”

In the regular season, the Houston Rockets were dangerous behind the strong play of James Harden, the league’s leading scorer.

Harden ignited the Rockets and is the reason players like as Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Kenneth Faried thrive in the team’s offense.

Harden had the highest usage in the league (39.3 percent) but also ranked 12th in the league for assists per game.

During the regular season, the Rockets relied on making three-pointers or scoring easy buckets at the rim, particularly out of the pick-and-roll and are truly an analytics-era team.

The Houston Rockets led the league during the regular season in three-pointers attempted per game (45.4) and three-pointers made (16.1).

The Rockets benefitted from Harden’s ability to score and facilitate and benefitted from having one of the best offenses in the league.

If their offense is in top form, they’re a tough team to beat.

In the NBA Playoffs, Houston lost in Game 6 to a Kevin Durant-less Golden State Warriors.

Adding Russell Westbrook might just be the spark that they need.

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.

“They’re ballers,” Cuttino Mobley said about Westbrook and Harden.

“They know how to play the game. Both of them can pass well. When you have two guys like that who are athletic and can score easy, it’s always a dangerous matchup for the defense.”

If Westbrook and Harden’s first year together in Oklahoma City are any indication of what the NBA can expect, then their cohesion could prove a lot of doubters wrong.

Per Heavy’s Jeff Smith: During the 2009-10 NBA season, Harden’s rookie season, The Beard averaged just 9.9 points per game. He averaged 12.2 points per game in his second season and has only gone up from there.

Westbrook averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 assists in year one and 21.9 points and 8.2 assists in year two.

 


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