Will the Houston Rockets be able to tame Russell Westbrook?

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

For the Russell Westbrook trade to be considered a success, the Houston Rockets will have to find a way to reduce his technical and flagrant fouls.

On the court, Russell Westbrook plays with a tenacity unmatched by any other player in the league. This is part of what contributes to Westbrook’s greatness, as he constantly plays with a chip on his shoulder, which is something the Houston Rockets could benefit from. The downside to his hard-charging, fierce personality, however, is that it’s often caused The Brodie to get in trouble with league officials.

While he plays with his heart on his sleeve on the court, Russell can also let his emotions get the better of himself vocally, which can lead to an excess in technical and flagrant fouls that Houston might not be able to afford in the crowded Western Conference.

In fact, Westbrook led the league last season with four flagrant fouls and was tied with former teammate Kevin Durant and Warriors power forward Draymond Green for the most technical fouls in the NBA with 16. In the previous season, Westbrook ranked third in each category.

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Taming Westbrook’s temper will be tough to prevent, as that is essentially who he is, but the Rockets won’t be able to afford to lose Westbrook to suspension during the season, and especially not during the playoffs.

We all saw how a suspension could very well cost an NBA team a championship with the Draymond Green situation back in 2016.  On top of that, the drop-off after Westbrook is immense, as Austin Rivers is nowhere near the caliber player Russell is.

While Rockets fans can still expect some technicals from the passionate Westbrook this season, maybe a change in scenery will help him taper those down a bit.

Now as the second option to James Harden, the hope is Westbrook will leave it to the team’s captain to be the vocal leader of the group. Harden obviously has clout within the organization and by now should have the respect of Westbrook to be able to get him to tone down on the excessive technical fouls.

The Rockets will need Westbrook to continue to play angry and leave his emotions on the floor because that’s when he’s at his best. At the same time, it’s when Russell loses impulse control that he can get himself and his team into trouble.

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It’ll be interesting to see if Mike D’Antonio, James Harden and the rest of the organization can settle Russell Westbrook down this season for the benefit of everyone.