Houston Rockets: Expect more isolation plays from Harden and Westbrook

Houston Rockets guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be tasked with scoring the bulk of the team’s via isolation plays. Why? Let’s talk.

The Houston Rockets are primed for likely another eventful season in the Association after making the trade that was heard around the world, a blockbuster one that landed them Russell Westbrook.

It’s absolutely amazing that the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to take Chris Paul‘s albatross-like contract in order to facilitate the end game of having Westbrook in a Houston Rockets‘ uniform.

There are concerns of how he and James Harden are going to mesh in the backcourt but I think that it won’t be as much an issue as we may all think.  Both are dynamic guards that like the ball in their hands and lots of isolation plays are run through them.

The beauty of this is that if Mike D’Antoni wants to run isolation, he has two players he can ensure that his initiatives of putting the ball in the hoop are executed.

Harden led the league in points from isolation plays last season.  It’s important to note that 16.4 percent of his possessions came from iso-ball and he averaged 18.1 points per game just off that strategy alone last season.

It pains us to see things slow down at times with these Houston Rockets but D’Antoni already knows that they’re getting their best bang for their buck when Harden is in isolation.  This is especially helpful when the rest of the team goes on a cold shooting streak and it allows some sort of continuity with the game plan until the rest of the team heats back up.

There were times last season where the rest of our shooters didn’t recover, yet the Houston Rockets would win games as a result of Harden’s heroics.

Only 4.9 percent of Westbrook’s scoring plays came off isolation and he only averaged 3.7 points

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per game when that happened.  However, that still has him ranked 9th in the league in that category.  I’d expect for that number to increase going into the season.

Harden has his step-back while Westbrook has a euro-step move of his own.  These two are going to be deadly out on the court and defenses are going to be scratching their heads as to how to resolve to try to stop these two guys.

If you double-team Harden, he’ll dish it off to Westbrook for him to score the basket and vice-versa.  Both Westbrook and Harden averaged 10.7 and 7.5 assists respectively in 2018-19 so I could still see scenarios where the ball is moving fluidly among team members until an open man is found.

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If I can see a healthy mix of ball movement and isolation, this team is going to be difficult to stop and then we’ll be having the conversation about having the team’s third Larry O’Brien trophy added to their illustrious case of theirs.

We’ll have to keep an eye out Houston Rockets fans — stay tuned.