Since the first time when the world was shocked about the Russell Westbrook to Houston Rockets trade, I said that this is a hail mary for the Rockets organization, and you can kind of see it now. He’s the same old player who wants the ball in his hands in the majority of time, while he’s shooting way too much from beyond-the-arc, given the fact that he is actually worse from that spot than last season. Russell has very poor percentages at the moment, shooting only 23% from the three-point-line, and that’s just not acceptable for a player of his caliber. In addition to those numbers, we need to mention that his FG% is very low, too, being stuck at 41,4%, to go along with 71% from the charity stripe. Come on… the Rockets organization surely didn’t trade for that. All those numbers are a big reason of concern for the Houston Rockets, because Westbrook clearly needs to step up his play in order to get as far in the playoffs as James Harden was stating earlier that they will go – right in the NBA Finals. With this style of play, though, they won’t even get past the second round.
Another problem that seems to bother his approach to the game is the fact that he is not getting to the rim as aggressively as he was doing in the past, so because of that, he is relying now too much on his shot, which is broken for the moment. That is not the solution, not for Westbrook, who was never considered to be a great shooter, nonetheless. The final seconds of the Rockets – Clippers game was a good example of how he forces the 3-point shot, instead of getting advantage of the open lanes created simply by the presence of teammates like James Harden, PJ Tucker or Clint Capela. He let the ball fly when he had a clear path to the basket… either he would’ve got the easy lay-up, or he would’ve got fouled and sent to the line. This is the aspect of his game where he needs to improve more, his basketball IQ in tense moments, because Russell is giving you the impression that he reacts based only on his ego sometimes, trying to prove something to someone, everytime. It doesn’t work like that, not if you want to win a championship.
Maybe things will get in place once Eric Gordon will come back from his injury, as he is a lethal 3-point weapon and a good asset at spacing the floor, but until then, Mike D’Antoni has to figure out a way to play his point guard more efficiently – tell him to attack the basket more, to use the screens more and practice his 3-point shot late nights in the gym. Hard work beats talent that doesn’t work, right?
Russell Westbrook is averaging 22,2 PPG, 7,5 RPG and 6,8 APG after 17 games. Those numbers aren’t necessarily bad, but you need to take in consideration the percentages on those stats, too. His inefficiency is killing the Rockets at the moment.