While Russell Westbrook has enjoyed an exemplary career so far, he will need to make some adjustments to his game if he hopes to take the Houston Rockets to the next level.
Russell Westbrook joins the Rockets this season with an impressive resumé that includes eight All-Star appearances, an NBA Most Valuable Player award in 2017, two All-NBA First Team selections, and much more. Statistically, hardly anyone in the league has put up the kind of numbers the explosive point guard has put up over his first 11 seasons in the league.
While the Larry O’Brien trophy has eluded him, Russell has made it to the Western Conference Finals three times and the NBA Finals once during his tenure with Oklahoma City. Now reunited with another superstar in James Harden, the UCLA standout has a chance to be the piece of the puzzle that pushes Houston from perennial contender to the real deal.
On paper, there isn’t much to pick on when it comes to the numbers Westbrook puts up year in and year out. With that said, in order to fit in with the playing style of Mike D’Antoni‘s Houston Rockets, there are some concerns Russ will need to address in order to make his transition to H-Town as seamless as possible
Here are the top three ways Russell Westbrook should adapt his game to help Houston be successful this season.
Mike D’Antoni loves the 3-point shot. No, I mean, he really loves the 3-point shot. D’Antoni has been the head coach of five different teams over the course of 15 NBA seasons. Over that span, his clubs have finished first or second in the NBA in 3-point field goals attempted an astounding ten times.
It’s no surprise then, that Houston led the league by far last season with a mind-blowing 45.4 attempts from downtown per game last season, and led the league the previous two seasons at 42.3 and 40.3 attempts per game.
When it comes to outside shooting, Westbrook can be fairly streaky. No one feeds off of momentum like Russell; and when his adrenaline gets pumping, especially in the open court, Russ can knock them down with the best of them. The issue, however, can be seen in his 3-point shooting percentage.
The two-time scoring champion has managed a career average of 23 points per game despite shooting a meager 30.8 percent from downtown over his 11 seasons. Despite taking 5.6 attempts from 3-point range last season, which is higher than his career average, Westbrook only connected on 29 percent of these opportunities. Still, Westbrook’s playmaking abilities have been able to keep him among the league’s elite players.
The good news for Russell is that he will have plenty of opportunities to work on his 3-point prowess in D’Antoni’s run and gun system. If he can up his shooting percentage and learn to choose his spots, it will do wonders for Houston’s already explosive offense.
Next: Trusting teammates in crunch time