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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni: Russell Westbrook is already in great shape

Houston Rockets James Harden Mike D'Antoni Russell Westbrook (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden Mike D'Antoni Russell Westbrook (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook arrived to his first Rockets’ bubble practice in tip-top shape.

Although the Houston Rockets‘ training camp has gone smoothly, the Rockets have yet to have a full crew in attendance. The Rockets were initially without James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Luc Mbah a Moute, and it was unknown why the Rockets weren’t at full strength.

Harden later stated that he was missing in action due to family matters, and we’ve yet to hear exactly what kept Mbah a Moute away for so long, although the latest reports are that LMAM is set to arrive in Orlando soon. Westbrook quickly announced that he was away from the team due to a positive COVID-19 test, which raised questions around when he’d join the team.

Westbrook made his first practice with the team on Wednesday, which was a welcome addition, as the Rockets had already gone two weeks without one of their star players. Westbrook had been training rigorously throughout the hiatus, which gave Rockets fans a vote of confidence that he’d arrive to training camp in tip-top shape.

Westbrook teased the media by stating that he didn’t know if he could make a layup, and that he wanted to take his time en route to getting back to 100 percent. However, it didn’t take long for Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to realize that Westbrook was back to normalcy, as he explained on SportsTalk 790’s The Matt Thomas Show.

Houston Rockets’ D’Antoni says Westbrook is already in shape

“He looked good. Athletically, obviously, he was in pretty good shape. He probably did 80 percent of our practice and he looks good. We played about five games of six minute games, so of about 30 minutes, he probably played about 24 of them.

Everybody else pushed a little bit harder but we want to get his legs and make sure he’s okay. He could’ve done it but I know he was risking it. We trying to work him up. I don’t know if he’ll play Friday or not for the scrimmage, but after that he should be ready to go.”

D’Antoni stated that the Rockets’ first practice with Russ entailed mostly a refresher for the team, as D’Antoni wanted to get Russ back acclimated to his system, which has been described as challenging.

“We had to go over things we already went over, which was okay, as it was a little refresher course for everybody else. But for him, a couple of new plays and a couple of new wrinkles, just trying to add a little bit of whatever to it.”

Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, seven assists, and eight rebounds at the time of the NBA’s break in action, and was coming off a 34-game streak of having at least 20 points. The Rockets’ small ball philosophy was designed to put defenders in compromising situations, as Westbrook was drawing big men as primary defenders, which is a constant matchup nightmare for the opposition.

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D’Antoni stated that he doesn’t know if Westbrook will participate in the Rockets’ scrimmage against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, but stated that Westbrook should be full-go afterwards, which is certainly positive news for Rockets fans.

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