Russell Westbrook: What to expect from Rockets star in his first game against the Thunder
It’s going to be strange seeing Russell Westbrook play against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s the embodiment of the team after putting it on his back for much of his career. Seeing him play wear Houston Rockets uniforms will be something a lot of Thunder fans will not immediately be used to.
Brodie announced that he doesn’t feel any different playing his former team, and there’s a reason to believe his words. If that is indeed the case, then OKC fans will be in for a long night when the Rockets come to play.
The biggest thing fans should take note of will be the pace by which the Rockets will play their offense.
Mike D’Antoni is thrilled to have an electrifying point guard that can run his infamous SSOL offense. Shorthand for “seven seconds or less,” this gung-ho style of playing focuses on pushing the tempo as high as humanly possible and catching the opposing defenses off-guard. Westbrook is more than able to perform the role where Steve Nash thrived in the 2000s.
The other big thing Thunder fans are afraid of is the threat of him putting up a triple-double. He’s been a constant triple-double threat during his final latter years in OKC. In fact, his last three years with the team saw him average a triple-double throughout.
While they had the privilege of enjoying Westbrook’s triple-doubles last season, they will now have to look out on the Brodie doing the same thing to them. It’s very possible that he’ll finish the game with a 25-10-13 stat line as he’s always been wired to play competitively.
Finally, they can expect Westbrook and James Harden to put on the hurt on them. The duo, whose career highlights includes a run to the 2012 Finals with the Thunder, is one of the most prolific one-two punches in the league. Harden has always been a dangerous scorer if left alone, and Westbrook should only make things a lot more difficult for the Thunder defense.
However, Houston’s biggest strength is also its biggest issue. Westbrook and Harden definitely found success together during their early years, but the Beard was traded to the Rockets when they didn’t want to give him the contract he felt he deserved. The two grew as stars apart from each other, and there’s too small of a sample size to know for sure that they will be able to work the same way it did before.
Of course, things can only be decided once they’ve stepped up to the court and played. However, the immediate future doesn’t look pretty for the Thunder.
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