2. Rockets must push the pace and get easier shots
Before Russell Westbrook arrived in the Space City, the Rockets were among the slowest-paced teams in the league. This past season, the Rockets improved to 10th in the league in their percentage of points from fast breaks. For any team, especially the Rockets, pushing the pace is essential to early offense and easier baskets.
Constantly facing set defenses puts an extra strain on players like Harden and Westbrook, who typically control the offense. If the Rockets can get up the court faster and put pressure on the defense, they won’t have to depend on shots 23 feet and beyond from the basket as much.
Westbrook’s ability to attack the basket undeniably was part of the reason the Rockets decided to trade Chris Paul for him, as the Rockets struggled in terms of offensive tempo, and Russ is one of the best in the league at pushing the pace. A good example of this is the fact that Westbrook’s former Oklahoma City Thunder ranked ninth or better in tempo in two of his final three seasons in OKC.
If the Rockets can create easier and better looks offensively, that can go a long way towards maximizing the remaining peak years of their superstar backcourt.
Next: No. 1