The time is now for the Houston Rockets to win a championship. Russell Westbrook’s personality is just what they need to get them over the hump.
Ever since the news broke that Russell Westbrook would be joining the Houston Rockets, much of the discussion has been centered around how he and James Harden can coexist. There has also been a fair amount of talk regarding Westbrook’s strengths, weaknesses, and how he can acclimate to being a member of the Houston Rockets. However, there has not been enough mention of how Russell Westbrook’s personality is exactly what this Rockets team has been missing.
Anybody who has watched the Houston Rockets play on a regular basis over the past couple of years has probably noticed a trend. During several big games, the Rockets have suddenly collapsed. It seems that in an instant the team loses its energy, composure, or both and they begin to play poorly. Not all of the games where these so-called “collapses” occurred have resulted in losses but it is safe to say that it is a major concern. The most notable of these moments is the now infamous Game 7 in the 2018 Western Conference Finals when the Rockets missed 27 3-pointers in a row.
Many critics consider these collapses to be evidence of James Harden’s tendency to “choke” or the team succumbing to the pressure of the moment. The actual cause of these meltdowns may actually be the personalities of those on the team and the lack of a very specific type of person.
Every team needs a person that the other players can look to at certain points in the game for a boost of energy or confidence. For instance, Draymond Green has filled this role for the Golden State Warriors for several years and Patrick Beverley has done the same in Houston and Los Angeles. Both are very aggressive and expressive players. They tend to fire up the crowd and irritate their opponents to no end.
When the Rockets dealt Beverley in the Chris Paul trade, they opened a hole in their roster for this type of player. P.J. Tucker has done his best to step into this role but he, too, finds himself falling into a lull during games. This is where Russell Westbrook comes into the picture.
In addition to his ridiculous athletic ability and basketball prowess, Russell Westbrook is known for being a very emotional player. One that plays every second of every game with the exact same intensity and vigor. This personality trait will prove to be very useful for the Rockets. In the past couple of years, many of the Rockets players have had very relaxed personalities. Players that really only show emotion for poster dunks or big threes. However, sometimes all of the momentum is in favor of the opposing team.
That is why it will be helpful to have a player like Westbrook. He will be able to keep the team engaged on every possession and limit the dips in energy that have plagued the Rockets. This will also be invaluable during home games because he also has a tendency to keep the crowd on their feet. Home-court advantage is a real factor in determining the outcome of games and teams like the Warriors and the Raptors have greatly benefited from it in recent playoff runs.
In a year that is undeniably championship or bust, the Rockets will need every advantage they can get. With the addition of Russell Westbrook, you can now add his personality to that list.