Newly acquired Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook is ready for the start of the 2019–20 NBA season. With a new-look Western Conference, it will be hard for the Rockets to stay a top-four team in the playoff race.
However, with the season set to begin in a few weeks, Westbrook isn’t worried. Today we will look at his comments about the new look Rockets and what we should expect from them for the upcoming season.
Westbrook’s time in Oklahoma City
Since entering the league out of UCLA, Russell Westbrook has been one of the most athletic point guards in the NBA. He was always viewed as a force when driving to the rim, and the trio of Westbrook, James Harden, and Kevin Durant even made it to the NBA Finals.
Although they didn’t get the job done against the Miami Heat, the team looked to have a bright future. That all changed when Harden went to the Rockets. Westbrook and Durant did as much as they could, but they ultimately came up short on reaching another NBA Finals together.
Once Durant left, it was Westbrook’s team, and he took over, becoming the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson. That season, he averaged 31 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game, earning him the 2017 NBA MVP Award.
Westbrook would go one to average a triple-double each of the next two seasons before requesting a trade to the Houston Rockets.
Russell Westbrook is feeling pretty good in Houston
So how did Westbrook end up with the Rockets? There were two major things that happened. The first thing was MVP candidate Paul George requesting a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard. Once the Thunder received back an impressive haul of draft picks, Westbrook saw the team was clearly in a rebuilding mode.
Not wanting to be a part of that, he looked for greener pastures a few days later. The second was the unbelievable bombshell report surrounding the Rockets top two players, Harden and point guard Chris Paul.
The report listed all of their issues on and off the court, and once the report came out, it was clear that one of the two had to go. Houston shipped Paul to the Rockets in exchange for Westbrook, giving the team two of the league’s last three MVPs.
When he was asked about opposing teams facing off against them in the backcourt at Rockets media day, Westbrook simply said:
“It’s going to be scary, but not for us.”
What can we expect from the Rockets this season?
When it was time to make this trade, the Rockets were in a tough spot. The power in the conference had clearly shifted to both teams in Los Angeles, as Leonard and George would fight for supremacy in the arena against LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant and will be without Klay Thompson for much of the regular season, but they will still be a threat with a hungry Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
Then there are the Trailblazers and Nuggets, the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, last season. Where do Russell Westbrook and the Rockets fall in all of this? At best they could be a No. 4 seed in the conference. We think their window of opportunity closed two seasons ago, but Harden and Westbrook will still put up MVP caliber numbers.