How I Stopped Hating Russell Westbrook and Learned to Embrace the Chaos
Updated: Mar 6
Heretofore, Russell Westbrook has pretty much embodied everything I hate in a basketball player. He is selfish, an unskilled shooter, and apathetic defender all while posturing & preening incessantly. Bravado aside, the antics are tiresome and trite. Did I mention that his historical stats have been historically empty and that his MVP hardware was a fraud? In short, I have not been a fan of Westbrook for the past decade.
A blockbuster trade brought “Brodie” to Houston in what everyone assumed was the new owner’s misguided attempt at publicity and profit. The Rockets sent out CP3 and a grip of draft picks for the hyper-athletic point guard on the wrong side of 30 and owed more than $160 million for the next four years. Chris Paul was never a great fit next to James Harden but he possessed discipline nearly to a fault. In comes Westbrook who is as unprincipled as a superstar could possibly be.
The first few months were a mess for Russ. Jacking us and missing a mess of threes and simply playing surprisingly passive. Russ was shooting in short, he seemed miscast and unembraced by the Houston faithful. This wasn’t going well.
Daryl Morey, ever the innovator, and a nothing left to lose Mike D’Antoni decided to go all in on “Moreyball” in early February. Out went center Clint Capela and in came the perfectly cast Robert Covington.
What happened was akin to injecting NOS into Dominic Torretto’s Dodge Charger.
Westbrook has played in six post-trade contests and the Rockets are 6-2 with a margin of victory averaging 13.5 points per contest. Russell has been electric!
This is Westbrook fully unleashed. He is averaging 34 ppg on 57% shooting and even netting 43% of his threes. Even more so, he has nearly removed the disastrous 3-point shot from his arsenal. In the month of February, post-trade, he made 76% of his shots at the rim which accounts for 40% of his overall shot attempts.
Rockets fans are witnessing 35 minutes per game of pure relentlessness. In a recent obliteration of the Memphis Grizzlies the full Westbrook experience was on display.
First he scores the contested layup and gets a technical for taunting:
On the ensuing possession he deflects a pass, gets the steal, accelerates and crams home a boisterous dunk:
What we are witnessing is the full potential of a Harden & Westbrook pairing. No plodding big men are clogging the paint and the lane is wide open for two of the league's best one-on-one offensive dynamos.
Harden’s stats have actually decreased a bit since the trades but ultimately that is probably a positive for the league’s #3 highest usage player. Any decrease in responsibilities in the regular season could help this squad in the postseason. The after-season tournament is where this duo of MVP’s have the most to prove individually.
The shooting light is green and the potential is limitless for a squad that competes defensively and has the offensive firepower of a Top Gun fighter jet.
Houston, we are cleared for takeoff.