Houston Rockets: Honest dish on Russell Westbrook-James Harden mesh

Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets trade for Russell Westbrook has long since been official. But here’s some honest dish on how things will work with James Harden. Look.

I know I’m late. But I haven’t been living under a rock. I was there the night the trade happened. I saw it. The Houston Rockets had just traded for Russell Westbrook with Chris Paul and some picks I knew the Houston Rockets weren’t going to use anyway.

I was stunned — I was teaching one of my students when my Dad called and told me the news. I was shocked, dumbfounded, and even bewildered. I just started rambling math in front of my student and he started to look as bewildered as I was.

Sure, the idea of Russell to the Houston Rockets was flirted around with on SportsRadio 610 frequently. Sure, I had heard about it many times because of the excitement it would’ve brought to the already highly-anticipated NBA season. But a trade for Russ actually coming true? I thought there was no way in hell.

But this was the grand finale of one of the greatest offseason periods in sports history. This offseason was more exciting and much less predictable than the past few NBA seasons themselves.  Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets? Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers? Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers? Again, Russ to the Houston Rockets?

I cry thinking about how far the NBA season is from now.


It’s by far the most entertaining team we are going to see this year. One fast-paced, athletic, renegade-like guard combo with a ball handler/lefty that is going to be one of the most phenomenal pairings we will see in NBA history.

Will the Houston Rockets win it all? Who knows. But it sure is going to be one hell of a show.

But one question many have asked is “will it work?”

I saw the press conference. There were plenty of questions. There were laughs, there were predictable statements, but the questions seemed to have the same narrative.

Will they happily share the ball?

I am honestly not so sure but I’ll say this:

Both players have received recognition for their individual play on the court.  They’ve each won an MVP award and the newly-formed duo have established themselves as a few of the most dangerous players in the league. They both are still missing a ring to their name and both are childhood friends.

I am damn sure these two guys are willing to sacrifice the ball for each other.

Now for the fit.

Well, we know James Harden fits this team. I mean, come on, he has to right?

Now Westbrook brings questions. Many have wondered how two ball-dominant guards can work on one basketball team. It brings the conversation to the forefront of the differences between Paul and Westbrook.

Most people against the Westbrook trade have said that Paul has a higher-level basketball IQ and that he can run an offense better. Paul was willing to sacrifice the possession plenty of times so the ball can be in Harden’s hands and is a MUCH BETTER SHOOTER THAN WESTBROOK WILL EVER BE.

I have heard that last one A LOT.

They are all valid arguments. Russell is a much quicker decision-maker, and chances of it going wrong are a lot higher than Paul’s. He has struggled shooting over his career, especially recently, and the idea of bulk and speed is much more important in his playstyle than the idea of a slow-moving, smart offense.

But it’s the perfect complement to Harden. Westbrook and Harden are total opposites. Aside from

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their antagonistic shooting percentages, their play styles are a perfect match that can work wonderfully on the court.

And Russ will have a legitimate bunch of snipers. His fast play on small-ball pace with nothing but shooters gives the idea that he can drive to the paint or kick it out. With that many shooters and small men, he can go in transition, something where he and Ben McLemore excel at. Scoring in transition. There’s a reason why Houston Rockets signed him folks.

Harden meanwhile can play with the slower guys and go into his favorite isolation mode. Stagger the minutes between these two guards like with Paul and Harden and there’s no reason that the opposing styles of play won’t benefit, notwithstanding Russ’ questionable shooting percentages.

Has anybody seen Harden’s one-legged three-pointer? Sheesh!

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I don’t expect the combination to be fluid all of the time. There will be some bumps along the way; however, as long as it’s all figured out by April, this Houston Rockets team will be one hell of a threat in the wide-open race for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Do you agree with my assessment of what could be a deadly combination?  Feel free to sound off in the comments section below.