For those who follow me on Twitter, y’all know that I’ve been expecting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden to struggle throughout the season which I expected they would possibly land the 7th seed in the Western Conference at the end of the year.
After the trade went down in mid July that sent Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul, I was left scratching my head wondering how two dominant ball handlers were going to co-exist on the basketball court. We know that these two have played with one another in the past but they have both evolved so much since and have become much more efficient players than before. But they have proved me wrong so far. The way these two superstars have been able to flourish with one another alongside the Rockets success thus far, both Harden and Russ have been nothing but spectacular through the first couple weeks of the regular season.
Harden and Russ are averaging a total of 58 points per game through the first three weeks of the regular season. Both of their play have contributed to Houston’s success which has them placed in the third spot in the West. When the two are both on the court together it looks as if they have it all figured out and they continue to feed off one another’s energy. Some of their impressive wins so far have been against the Wizards, Thunder, and Bulls.
Like I said, the one thing that I was concerned the most about when it came to Russ and Harden was their style of play. These two players are arguably the best when it comes to dominating the ball whether it is playing in isolation or driving ferociously to the basket. With Harden being the franchise player for Houston, I expected for Westbrook to sacrifice a lot from his game to help benefit the team to have a successful season. But that has not been the case whatsoever. Both players have continued to play their style of basketball and it has helped them tremendously so far this season.
Both Harden and Westbrook had a feeling that they were going to co-exist from the beginning and they made it clear before the season began. “When it comes to me and James playing together, who’s going to have the ball, who’s not going to have the ball, it really doesn’t matter.” Westbrook stated prior to the season beginning. It seems as if their history of knowing each other in the LA area as kids alongside playing with one another in OKC early in their careers helped them understand one another and realize what they need to do as far as winning on the basketball court.
Not only have Harden and Russ benefited off of each other, but their teammates have as well. The Rockets key contributors as in Clint Capela, PJ Tucker, Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon, and Danuel House Jr have been a big factor to this Rockets team and why they are in the position they are in currently. Coach D’Antoni always calls their numbers in key moments and they always step up for the team when needed. Without their play so far, there’s no telling how things would be right now for both Russ and Harden if they didn’t have their teammates.
So far it’s only three weeks into the regular season with about 70+ games to go. But the Rockets are looking to continue to build off what they started and keep their momentum going. Only thing that this team is lacking thus far is defense due to the fact that the team is allowing a total of 118 points per game this season. Hopefully D’Antoni will preach defense to the team throughout the rest of the season and they will learn to shut down their opponents. Besides their defense, the Rockets have all the tools they need and I must say that they have a golden opportunity to be one of the top teams this season.