For basketball fans across the globe, the NBA is a melting pot for some of the best athletes on the planet. From watching players like Giannis Antetokounmpo with his 7ft frame, doing things at his size we haven’t seen before, to LeBron James building a global brand that will last longer than all of us will live to see. The league is filled with superstars but there are two elite players that can’t seem to stat their way to a championship. Those two players are none other than Houston Rocket stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Fellow NBA fans, there is one thing I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever watched an entire Houston Rockets’ game from start to finish? For those who have said “yes”, I would love to hear your experience. For those who said “no”, PLEASE do yourself a favor and keep it that way.
Most of us don’t watch the Rockets’ play on a regular basis and instead just see the astronomical numbers that Westbrook and Harden put up the next morning via Twitter or ESPN. We see Harden putting up +40 point outings on the regular and see Westbrook’s highlight reel athletic ability. These two seem to be breaking records all over the place and would lead most average fans to believe that they were one of the best teams in the league. However, the Houston Rockets are an extremely average team. “Why?” You might ask… it all circles back to these two superstars and the Rockets’ play style.
If you have ever sat down and watched an entire Rockets’ game and are an NBA/basketball fan, I can’t imagine you thinking the display was anything but a glorified open gym. I can probably sum up most Rockets’ formulas for offensive possessions in the following sentence.
“Westbrook gets the rebound, brings it down the floor and hands it off to Harden, Harden dribbles between his legs a couple times, steps back and shoots a jumper or takes it to the rack with a flailing layup attempt.”
There are several different variations to this formula but either way you look at it, and more often than not, it’s Westbrook or Harden taking a lower than average shot attempt.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Harden is a stud. The guy cannot be stopped when he decides he wants to score. He only trails the great Greek Freak in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in the entire NBA. For the volume of shots he attempts every game he is surprisingly efficient. However he does average 4.6 TO/game (2nd in NBA).
Now let’s get to his counterpart. Westbrook is ranked 11th in player efficiency rating (PER) and that’s just out of the PG’s in the league. He’s 43rd out of all players. Not to mention he’s averaging 4.3 TO/game (3rd in NBA).
I may be a little biased as an avid Westbrook doubter but no matter which side of the fence you sit on, these two have only accomplished statistical feats. Both players are extremely talented and superstar athletes, but I think it ends there for their professional careers to date. I may be going out on a limb here but both players seem to only care about one thing and one thing only. STATS. They don’t have that winner’s mentalities of the greats like the Black Mamba or the GOAT MJ. Kobe Bryant has even gone into detail on how this method of playing won’t translate to post-season success.
No Rings for Houston
Currently the Rockets sit at the 6th seed in the Western Conference and look to push closer towards the top four to better their chances at a post season run. Regardless if they finish as the 1st seed or 8th seed in the West, I don’t see them making any runs past the Conference Finals. The way they play will not bode well against teams like the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, and Nuggets that they’ll meet in the Western Conference Playoffs.
It would be one thing if they were playing like this and were a contender for the title but the fact is, they are not a contender. They are a terrible watch and far from a great team. The Rockets will NEVER win a title with the core of Westbrook and Harden.
CHANGE MY MIND!
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