3 Reasons Russell Westbrook will come back better than ever next season
By Lachard Binkley
Russell Westbrook is hoping next year with the Houston Rockets will be more like a blockbuster all year instead of a flop.
When it comes to Russell Westbrook‘s season with the Houston Rockets, you can divide it into three parts like a trilogy series. The beginning of his season was erratic, and Westbrook seemed out of place. The middle of his debut Rockets’ season was the best part. From January to March 2020, Westbrook was a top 10, maybe even top 5 players. Then the NBA season was halted and things got complicated.
The final part of Westbrook’s season resembled a standard second movie of a trilogy: some good and some bad. The Westbrook we will see next season will be more like a great opening movie that lasts all year. Here are three reasons Westbrook will have a better upcoming season and return to his MVP form.
Westbrook will have a full offseason to work out
With the 2019-20 season being the longest calendar season in NBA history, most people may forget that Westbrook had not one but two surgeries last offseason. This prevented him from working out most of the 2019 summer and put him behind schedule. Westbrook also had surgery on his finger to repair a torn ligament on his left hand.
On top of that, Westbrook had surgery on his right knee, described as proactive maintenance. For any athlete, especially someone who plays at Westbrook’s level, missing work out time can put you behind your teammates. Now factor in being traded to a new team after spending your entire career with one team, and you can see why Westbrook started slow.
This offseason, provided there aren’t any significant surgeries, Westbrook will have ample time to get in his full offseason workout. It also gives him time to come into the season at full health, something he couldn’t do last year.
More time to work with James Harden
As everyone knows, Westbrook and James Harden are lifelong friends. Both started their careers together in Oklahoma City and thrived together alongside Kevin Durant. With this previous relationship, it was assumed that the pairing would be seamless, but that’s not how these situations work. First, Westbrook and Harden are totally different players than they were almost a decade ago.
Harden was the sixth man on those Thunder teams and now is a perennial MVP candidate for the Houston Rockets. That alone changes the dynamic when Westbrook last played with Harden. He was the star. Now he’s Harden co-star. With that, it takes time to rebuild their on-court relationship. With a full year and a full offseason together, both will form a gameplan to bring out the best in each other.
Criticism will drive Westbrook to regain MVP form
Westbrook has heard it all, from trade rumors to some saying he is the main reason the Rockets were knocked out of the playoffs. Russell is the type of player that thrives off opposing crowds booing and loves playing angry when he feels slighted in the least by the media.
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Most players will not admit that they listen to their critics, but you don’t get to Westbrook’s level without constant motivation in some form.
Even after just one year, there are plenty of people around the NBA and social media who think Westbrook should be traded. Westbrook is a former MVP and averaged a triple-double for three straight years.
A fiery competitor like Westbrook will go into next season fully motivated to prove all the doubters wrong.
Harden and Westbrook combined to be the highest-scoring duo in the modern NBA. They were ahead of the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. On the season, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and seven assists.
Westbrook wasn’t great in the playoffs, but there is no way the Houston Rockets should trade away a player who put up those types of numbers and will be even better next year.