1. Russell Westbrook
The Houston Rockets showed that they were still all in on trying to win a championship with this current group. However, in order to keep their championship window open for a little longer and take advantage of the strengths of D’Antoni’s offense, they felt the need to get a bit younger and decided to deal Chris Paul to Oklahoma City in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook needs no introduction, as we all know he is a perennial All-Star, triple-double machine and a future Hall of Famer.
However, like Harden, Westbrook has received more than his fair share of criticism over the years. When Kevin Durant played for OKC, many people thought Westbrook took too many shots and didn’t defer to KD often enough. After Durant left, Westbrook failed to get OKC out of the first-round in three straight postseasons, despite having Paul George as a co-star in the last two seasons.
Russ will go down as an all-time great, but he needs another Finals appearance, and preferably a championship, to shake off his reputation as a stat-sheet stuffer whose numbers don’t carry over to wins in the postseason.
The Rockets made a big commitment by making the deal for Westbrook. Now he has to prove that he can act as a great No. 2 option on offense and thrive while playing off the ball more often in a 3-point heavy offense.