I was completely caught off guard. I had heard rumors that Russell Westbrook was most-likely going to be traded, but not to the Rockets. I assumed he was going to join Jimmy Butler in Miami or something. Last year’s Rockets squad was my pick (before the playoffs) to win the Finals. I feel that two seasons ago they were really given the shaft when Chris Paul pulled his hamstring during the Western Conference Finals and lost to the Warriors. They were winning until that happened.
When thinking about what just happened, all I can come to understand is mixed feelings about the trade. On one hand both Brodie and The Beard have both won an NBA MVP award in the past three years. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double (Three stats, two digits) last season with 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 10.7 assists per game for the Thunder. James harden averaged 36.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists on the season for the Rockets. Combined, the players averaged 59 points, 17.7 rebounds, and 18.2 assists. These are really good stats — which brings me to my next point that they almost look too good.
Shannon Sharpe has mentioned multiple times on his show that “Russell Westbrook is a stat-padder.” What is a stat padder you might ask? Well, they are a player that focuses on the numbers and less the game. Here’s a hypothetical example:
Let’s say that a great shooter is dribbling down the court — with only a few seconds left –and has 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. If he chooses to pass the ball to a less-capable teammate to try and get the last assist to secure a triple-double he would be stat padding because he should have shot the shot to win the game.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging being a ball hog; I’m just saying that when people try to stat-pad, they essentially take themselves out of competitive play. The game of basketball has many moving parts and only works when all of them are in constant motion. If anyone focuses on just one of them, the game falls apart.
So Westbrook cares a lot about stats, and Harden’s weakness is the fact that he can be a ball hog. Last season, James Harden shot just about 25.5 shots per game. Even though he attempted so many shots his shooting percentages weren’t bad (36.8 3P% and 52.8 2P%).
And that works great if you are the main scorer on your team. But throw a stat-chaser into the equation and it is a whole-different ball game.
I think that this future Rockets squad is going to be extremely talented — no doubt about it. But sadly, I think that both Brodie and The Beard are going to struggle because they will have to share the ball a bit more.
Being a ball hog works if the rest of your team doesn’t care much about scoring. But a combination of two ball hogs is destined for failure…
Even if the Rockets fail next year, it will still be so-much fun to watch them. Whether it’s Westbrook’s monstrous dunks, or Harden’s unguardable step-back — they are ready to put on a show.