Advanced metrics add to the case for Harden and Westbrook
Remember, Westbrook and Harden are not exclusively launching shots either — the duo also combines for the most assists per game at 14.4. So, while Cowherd may not fully appreciate the pair, the bookies certainly do, giving the Rockets the fifth-best chance at the title at +1400 odds. In Texas Hold’em, when one is dealt a pair of aces, it is known as “pocket rockets,” and no team has a pair like the Rockets.
While Harden and Westbrook pour in the points and assists like no other duo, they also grade out well in advanced metrics. The two have combined for the third-best player efficiency rating and fourth-highest Win Shares of any pair currently in the bubble.
Top 5 Duo’s in NBA Bubble by Win Shares & PER
1. LAL (19.8)
2. MIL (17.8)
3. MIA (16.6)
4. HOU (15.8)
5. UTA (15.2)
1. LAL (54.2)
2. MIL (53)
3. HOU (49.9)
4. LAC (47.2)
5. DAL (47)
(LAL- LeBron James & Anthony Davis, MIL- Giannis Antetokounmpo & Khris Middleton, MIA- Jimmy Butler & Bam Adebayo, LAC- Kawhi Leonard & Paul George, UTAH- Rudy Gobert & Donovan Mitchell, DAL- Luka Doncic & Kristaps Porzingis, HOU- James Harden & Russell Westbrook)
The only duos to have produced a better PER and Win Shares than Harden and Westbrook come from title favorites; the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. In reality, Harden and Westbrook only lag behind those two duos because of their lack of rebounding, which factors heavily in PER, and their defense, which is heavily influenced by overall team defense.
Next: What Sets Harden and Westbrook Apart