How Rockets’ Russell Westbrook can be the most efficient version of himself
Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s most electrifying talents. His unique combination of blistering quickness and superhuman strength has allowed the 31-year-old to enjoy a successful pro career that will result in him being enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Westbrook’s offensive talent has never been questioned, but his shot selection is a totally different story.
In order for Russ to be his most efficient self, it all starts with shot selection. Westbrook has been criticized throughout his career due to his tendency to settle for inefficient, contested jumpers instead of doing what he does best, which is attacking and finishing at the rim. Specifically, the Houston Rockets guard is guilty of all too often firing from long range, despite shooting an abysmal percentage from deep for his career (30.4%).
With that said, Westbrook has actually dialed down his three-point attempts this season. He is taking just 3.8 attempts, his lowest number since the 2012-13 campaign. Rockets fans should be encouraged by this, but Westbrook needs to take even fewer triples if Houston wishes to make a deep playoff run. Only 25% of his treys have fallen in 2019-20, a dreadfully inefficient clip and the second-worst of his career. At this point in his career, it is clear that the three-pointer is not a part of Westbrook’s repertoire, regardless of Houston’s pace and space style of play he is better off not taking them consistently.
Along with the three-pointer, Russ has had a difficult time converting on his mid-range looks as a Rocket. Westbrook has racked up 132 field goal attempts from a distance of 10-14 feet and has connected on just 38.6% of his tries from this area of the floor. Just 13.7% of said baskets came off of assists, a sign that Westbrook is forcing the issue and these jump shots usually results in him being a ball-stopper. If he instead took these shots off the catch and in rhythm, the 12-year-pro would likely see his mid-range attempts find the bottom of the net more often.
Overall, it is cutting down on his long-range tries and unassisted, forced 10-14 foot jumpers that will lead to Westbrook becoming the most efficient player possible. It is worth mentioning that his field goal percentage this season is the best of his career (47.1%), though it has the potential to improve even further if he tinkers with his shot selection.
The Rockets will go as far in the postseason as Westbrook and James Harden can take them. If they want a legitimate shot at taking down the Los Angeles Clippers or Lakers in a seven-game series, their all-star point guard needs to score the ball with accuracy. Houston’s chance at a title may depend on it.