Guard: Russell Westbrook
As long as Russell Westbrook is in Houston he’s going to be in their starting backcourt. Last season he made third-team All-NBA and averaged 27.2 points per game on a career-best 47.2-percent shooting.
It’s odd that after a season as productive as the one Westbrook had there are more questions about his ability than there have ever been. While Westbrook saw gains in his efficiency overall, he didn’t improve his ability to make shots as much as he started taking more of the right ones.
Westbrook started taking fewer 3-pointers and more shots at the rim. The strategy worked well because Westbrook shoots his best at the rim and his worst from behind the arc.
The reason there is concern surrounding Westbrook is that he saw significant declines in his rebounding and passing numbers, while still posting a 34.4-percent usage rate. This isn’t to say that Westbrook is suddenly a scrub, but that his scoring efficiency masked some decline in other areas of his game.
The good news for Westbrook is that Stephen Silas wants to keep the five-out offense, known last season as micro ball, that allowed for his second-half surge. Before the Rockets committed to micro ball Westbrook averaged 26.3 points per game on 45.5-percent shooting and 4.3 3-point attempts.
After they ditched a traditional center in favor of a floor-spacer, Westbrook’s numbers exploded to 29.4 points per game on 50.8-percent shooting and only 2.5 3-point attempts. These numbers also include his time in the bubble where he was coming back from a positive COVID-19 test.
Westbrook should be able to maintain his micro ball efficiency into this season and could even see some improvements through an increase in easy buckets as a pick and roll ball handler. Russell Westbrook, if he’s still in Houston, is going to be in the starting lineup.
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