3 reasons the Houston Rockets shouldn’t trade for Russell Westbrook
Alphas in the locker room
This isn’t always an instant red flag, as we’ve seen firsthand with Harden and Chris Paul making their pairing work. However, Westbrook is far more alpha than Paul and would likely continue his trend of ball-dominance even with Harden as his backcourt mate.
Rightly or wrongly, Westbrook was the alpha with Kevin Durant in OKC, and he was for most of his two seasons with Paul George too. He got better at letting PG take control of the offense last season – George’s field goal attempts were up from 17 in his first season in OKC to 21, Westbrook’s fell from 21.1 to 20.2 – but his alpha dog status showed in clutch situations.
In clutch situations last season, Westbrook shot 35% from the field on 2.4 field goal attempts per game and 18.6% on 1 three-point attempt per game. George shot superior percentages, got to the free throw line more, and yet took fewer shots in clutch situations according to clutch stats on nba.com. No matter how you tinker with the clutch stat qualifiers on nba.com, it all paints the same picture: Westbrook took more shots in close games at a lower percentage than the best player on the team.
Why should we expect this trend to change in Houston? Maybe because he would no longer be on a team which is explicitly his own, which OKC was after Kevin Durant departed. Maybe because he is aging and willing to accept a smaller role in order to win a championship. There’s some room for optimism in those thoughts, but past performance is the best indicator of future performance, and Westbrook’s past performance spells out bad chemistry for Harden and the Houston Rockets.
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