Rockets: Was Kendrick Perkins right about Russell Westbrook?

Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins recently made some interesting comments about Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook turned in a career year for the Houston Rockets in 2019-20, as he posted a career-high in field goal percentage (47.4 percent) and went on a scoring tear throughout the regular season. Westbrook ripped off 20+ points in 36 consecutive games, which was also a personal best.

Westbrook flashed a renewed display of scoring, as he finished with 27.2 points per game, which was seventh-best in the league. With Westbrook in the fold, the Rockets finished third in pace, which was a major improvement from the 2018-19 season, in which they finished 26th in the same department.

This should come as no surprise, as Westbrook is the most athletic point guard in NBA history, and his quickness and athleticism allows him to play at a frenetic pace, which defenders struggle to keep up with. Westbrook’s impact on the Rockets has been noted by many, including Westbrook’s former teammate Kendrick Perkins, who made recent comments about Westbrook on ESPN.

Was Perkins right about Houston Rockets’ Russell Westbrook?

“This Houston Rockets team is like a car. James Harden is the frame of this Ferrari, Russell Westbrook is the engine. He gives them swag, he gives them the drip. They need Russell Westbrook.”

Westbrook suffered a quadriceps injury prior to the Rockets’ Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he’s fought to get back on the floor.  Westbrook has shown the ability to help lead the Rockets to victory and to help lead them to defeat, which have both been on display during the Rockets’ second round series against the Lakers.

In Game 1, Westbrook had 24 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, which helped lead the Rockets to victory. In Game 2, however, Westbrook had just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting (26.7 percent), and added seven turnovers. But despite the dismal performance from Westbrook, Lakers coach Frank Vogel praised Westbrook’s ability to change the game and impact the team.

“Russell Westbrook is as much of a threat as any of their shooters. In fact, he’s probably a bigger threat than any of their shooters. Russell attacking on the back side is every bit as lethal, if not more lethal than their spot up players.”

Westbrook bounced back to a stellar performance in Game 3, as he finished with 30 points on 54.2 percent from the floor, while pouring in eight rebounds and six assists. Westbrook went toe-to-toe with LeBron James in the first half, as he had 17 points on 8-of-12 from the floor.

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The Rockets will certainly need Westbrook’s best efforts for the duration of the series, as he has the ability to impact the game on several fronts. With Westbrook’s all-around skillset, it’s understandable why Perkins believes he’s the engine that sparks the Houston Rockets.