How Russell Westbrook Adapted His Game
Despite their slow start and Westbrook’s statistical disaster, the Rockets and Westbrook stepped their game up after trading Clint Capela away to the Atlanta Hawks, leaving the team with no other option but to play micro ball due to their lack of depth at the center position.
Westbrook went on a rampage from every aspect on the offensive end, scoring roughly 31 points and tallying 5.8 assists per game while improving his true shooting percentage to 57.5 percent. In a broad sense, Westbrook’s game evolved more because he was able to get to the basket at ease, using his unstoppable speed and strength to will his way inside.
Getting to the basket more often also helped him be more consistent from other parts of the floor — one effect of that being a drop in his 3-point attempts, which is a positive for the Rockets.
As a result of his smarter play and more efficient scoring, the Rockets started to click and the micro ball plan was slowly coming together. Contrary to earlier on in the season, Houston was now averaging 113.9 points per game per 100 possessions, including a 3.7 net increase rating in offensive efficiency when Harden wasn’t on the floor.
Harden is the primary ball handler for the Rockets, but once he left the floor, Westbrook had the tendency to play away from the team, resulting in his drop in numbers and the team’s lack of consistency. Once Russell made the decision to score closer to the basket rather than shooting low-percentage shots, the Rockets thrived whenever Westbrook was on the floor with or without Harden.
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