Houston Rockets: Why the Westbrook/Harden duo is the best in the NBA

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

When the Houston Rockets acquired Russell Westbrook, there were instantly questions regarding how him and James Harden would mesh. But the Rockets’ star duo has quietly become the best pairing in the league, and one of the best ever.

When the Houston Rockets made the decision to trade Chris Paul, many national basketball analysts instantly questioned Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey’s vision for the team. This was understandable considering the fact that CP3 led the Rockets to the 2018 Western Conference Finals. However, with the reports of tension between The Point God and James Harden, the decision to part with CP3 wasn’t as much of a surprise as who the Rockets acquired to replace him with, which was Russell Westbrook.

Although Russell Westbrook is a generational talent, many questions arose regarding how he would play alongside James Harden and how he would fit into the Rockets’ offense. These were valid questions considering how Westbrook isn’t viewed as a sniper from deep and also considering how him and Harden are both used to having the ball in their hands.

But the early results have been stellar, which has silenced all the doubters and critics regarding the ability for both former MVPs to play together. Not only that, they’ve proven themselves to be the best duo in the league, which many Rockets’ detractors may not like to hear.

When you consider many of the newly assembled tandems around the league, such as the Los Angeles Lakers’ pairing of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the LA Clippers’ pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, this is really impressive.

Although it may be an unpopular statement to make, the numbers back it up. Westbrook and Harden have combined for 62.4 points per game, which is the most in the NBA this season.

The Lakers’ star duo is averaging 52.4 points per game and the Clippers’ duo is averaging 49.2 points per game. But not only that, The Beard and The Brodie are also each within the top 11 in assists per game, which is also a feat that only they have accomplished.

The Rockets’ star tandem has also been the only newly assembled duo in which each player has had his scoring numbers increase from the previous year, which is even more difficult to do.

It’s not necessarily surprising to see the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates flourishing considering that they previously played together, but even the biggest Houston Rockets hater would be impressed by how quickly the Beard and the Brodie have etched themselves as the best duo in the league.

To put it in perspective of how historical the star tandem has been, they’ve combined for more points per game than the legendary duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant ever combined for in a single season. In addition, Harden and Westbrook have scored more points than the Hall of Fame duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen ever combined for.

The last time in which a duo has at least matched The Beard and The Brodie’s point production was during the 1961-1962 season, which shows how historical the Rockets’ tandem has been. During that season, the Philadelphia Warriors’ duo of Wilt Chamberlain and Paul Arizin combined for 72.3 points per game, which is the highest scoring duo of all-time. In addition, the Los Angeles Lakers’ duo of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West combined for 69.1 points per game in the same year. Although those duos scored more than the Houston Rockets’ current tandem, neither of them accomplished that feat in their first year playing together, like Westbrook and Harden already have done this season.

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Although people have tried to negate the success of Westbrook and Harden by even stating that the two don’t trust each other, the reality is the Rockets’ star duo has not only been the best in the league this season, but they’ve already become one of the best of all-time, by the numbers.