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How Stephen Silas’ will get the best out of the Rockets

Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden Russell Westbrook (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Stephen Silas’s offense could unleash the best of Westbrook

Not to be forgotten, Russell Westbrook will need to get back his pick and roll prowess after taking a sabbatical from the play last season. While Harden paced the league in isolation possessions last season, Westbrook finished second in the category but was decidedly less proficient, only averaging 0.87 points per possession.

James Harden is the best offensive player in the world, but Westbrook, when in the right system, is an offensive hub all to his own. The pick and roll won’t be quite as effective with Westbrook as it will be with Harden, due to his lack of a credible 3-point stroke, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be heavily involved in the play.

Westbrook is still one of the most explosive players in the league and any amount of extra space a screen provides him will allow him to dust even the best defenders. The best pick and roll partner for Westbrook will be Christian Wood because of his pick and pop capabilities.

What made the Clint Capela and Westbrook pick and roll combination ineffective last season was that both were at their best in the paint. The duo would see defenders sag off of them both and muddle the areas they were most dangerous.

With Wood, teams will be forced to contest the pick and roll out to the perimeter and be forced into a no-win situation. Switch a big onto Westbrook and they’re too slow to stop his drive. Have them sag off to defend the paint and Wood will have an easy catch and shoot opportunity.

The Rockets went to a five-out offense to get the best out of Westbrook but still asked him to isolate too often. If their offense can provide the spacing of micro ball but add a more robust pick and roll element then stories of Westbrook’s decline will be greatly exaggerated.

Next: The rejuvenation of Eric Gordon

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