The Houston Rockets heard some news that they did not want to hear when NBA star Russell Westbrook revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19. On his social media, Westbrook said that he tested positive for COVID-19 before Orlando’s team left.
There’s no timetable on Westbrook’s return, and he’s a big piece to the team’s success. Without Westbrook, the Rockets will miss a lot going into the NBA restart.
Russell Westbrook has made a big impact on the Houston Rockets
When Westbrook was traded to Houston, that sparked many conversations about the Rockets being a team that can compete for an NBA championship. Going into the 2019-20 season, Westbrook joined former OKC Thunder teammate James Harden, and the Rockets backcourt improved a lot. Westbrook brings a lot to the Rockets team. He can score, pass, defend, and rebound. When you think of those players who bring that explosiveness and high energy, Westbrook is a player that comes to mind.
Westbrook being a part of the Rockets, takes a little pressure off of Harden on the offensive side. Westbrook is a player that can score 20 or more points on any given night, and when you add 30 or more points from Harden, that puts the team in a good position to win games. One area that Westbrook benefits from is his transition offense. His quickness allows him to blow past his defenders, especially on fast breaks, and his strength allows him to get to the rim with contact.
In his first season with the Rockets, Westbrook averaged 27.5 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists before the pandemic put a stop to the NBA season. The point guard started in 53 games and made the All-Star team for the sixth consecutive year. When the season was postponed, the Rockets had a 40-24 record and were sixth in the Western Conference.
What the Rockets will be missing if Russell Westbrook doesn’t play
Even though Westbrook said he plans on joining the team when he’s cleared, let’s take a look at what the Rockets will miss out on if that doesn’t happen. With Westbrook not a part of the team, that will put more pressure on Harden, and the ball will be in his hands a lot more. Harden already has the ball in his hand during a majority of the offensive possessions. With Westbrook on the court with him, Harden can preserve some energy and let Westbrook go to work on the offensive end.
Another area that the Rockets will miss out on is the energy that Westbrook brings. No matter what team he’s own, Westbrook plays with a lot of emotion, and his energy is a momentum boost. You have to think how far the Rockets can go in the playoffs without Westbrook? In the previous seasons, the Rockets had an elite point guard in Chris Paul, and with Paul, the Rockets made a nice run in the playoffs and almost made the NBA Finals in 2018. This will be the first season that Westbrook plays in the playoffs with the Rockets, and without him, their chances of making to the finals will not be high.
Russell Westbrook advises people to stay safe
In a message that Westbrook wrote on his social media, he said, “Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!” Those words by Westbrook lets you know that this virus has not gone away. People need to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and continue to wear masks whenever they go out in public.
The goal is to slow the spread of the virus, not continue to spread it. When people don’t follow social distancing or don’t wear masks, they’re only raising the chances of spreading the virus. The NBA is making sure to take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety inside the NBA bubble. For Westbrook, the Rockets and NBA are hoping that he can return soon.