Houston’s Title Hopes Have Liftoff as Incredible Westbrook Musters Rocket Fuel
- The Russell Westbrook trade is starting to pay dividends for the Houston Rockets.
- The former MVP is attacking the basket and leaving defenders in disarray.
- Westbrook’s aggressiveness is giving James Harden a lot of room to operate.
The Houston Rockets have been on the cusp of entering the NBA Finals since 2017 only to be denied by the Golden State Warriors in two consecutive playoff stints. This season, the Houston Rockets may finally get their shot at the Larry O’Brien trophy. With the Dubs’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson succumbing to injury, the West is a wide-open race.
This is a window that H-Town cannot afford to miss. Fortunately, their offseason moves are starting to pay dividends.
Russell Westbrook’s arrival in a blockbuster trade that saw the departure of Chris Paul has had its share of critics. Many were quick to pass judgment that the fast and flamboyant duo of Harden and Westbrook wouldn’t work to the detriment of Houston’s title hopes.
Critics can say whatever they want. The former MVP is letting his game do all the talking. If Westbrook can sustain his MVP-caliber performance, the Houston Rockets may finally end their 25-year title drought.
Russell Westbrook Is Putting Up Monster Numbers
The Houston Rockets are winners of seven of their last ten games. The team is also riding a three-game winning streak. A huge reason behind Houston’s surge is Russell Westbrook.
After a slow start, it appears that the eight-time All-Star is starting to feel comfortable in his place in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Brodie is averaging over 29 points, seven assists, and close to eight rebounds per game in the last seven games. This is a dramatic improvement from his 21.7 points per game performance in the first 19 games.
A noticeable change in Westbrook’s game is his aggressiveness on the offensive end. While he is still jacking up ill-advised threes, the athletic point guard has been aggressively attacking the rim.
Russ is at his best when he puts the pedal to the metal. He has the supernatural ability to get the defensive rebound and go coast to coast for an easy bucket. This is something we saw him do several times against the Clippers, which is a good defensive team.
If the defense manages to stop his attack, Brodie is such a willing passer that he’ll find the open man.
With Westbrook attacking early in the offense, the Houston Rockets are now sixth in fastbreak points per game. Houston’s 15.0 fastbreak points per game this year is a dramatic increase from last season’s 12 fastbreak points per game for a 12th place finish.
Just add Russell Westbrook to your team and see how good the pace gets.
Russell Is Putting a Lot of Pressure On the Defense
Brodie’s drives are forcing multiple defenders to collapse and protect the basket. This sets up Houston’s drive and dish offense.
Against the Spurs, Westbrook slashed and found the open man near the corner. With defenders scrambling to cover three-point shooters, the driving lane opened up for Danuel House who found Clint Capella for the jam.
In a game against the Suns, Russ sucked in four defenders as he tried to manufacture a shot. This left Ben Mclemore open for a corner three.
While Westbrook’s talent is keeping defenders on their heels, his importance to this Rocket team is accentuated when he is playing with James Harden. With Brodie and the Beard on the floor, the opposing team has very little choice but to play honest defense. If they double up on Harden, Westbrook can go all the way to the rim.
This is a big reason why James Harden has been tearing it up as of late.
With Houston’s explosive backcourt starting to click, the franchise’s title hopes are finally gaining altitude.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.