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Rockets confident James Harden, Russell Westbrook will be effective off-ball

James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Jalen Rose, Rockets

The Houston Rockets will employ a new formula coming into the 2019-20 season, now boasting two ball-dominant players capable of doing it all. That diverse firepower also comes with its share of drawbacks, as James Harden and the newly acquired Russell Westbrook will have to play off the ball through the course of the game.

However, the dynamic duo, which hasn’t played together since 2012, still thinks they can be effective off the ball:

“I think we play great off the ball with each other,” Westbrook told Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.

“We’ve done it in Oklahoma City. Many times in Oklahoma City, James, he closed the game as the primary ball-handler, and I played off the ball. It’s totally fine for me because, like I have said before, offensively and scoring and having the ball in my hands is not the only thing I can do for the game. I do a lot of great things for the game and I look forward to doing that with this team as well.”

The Rockets are confident their two stars will be more active in off-the-ball situations:

Team sources have expressed confidence in that Westbrook and Harden will both implement more off-ball movement into their games, particularly in a half-court setting, and were pleased with Westbrook’s comments during his introductory press conference.

Neither Harden nor Westbrook are known to be dynamic off-ball players, and it’s tough to imagine either of them particularly thriving when the ball isn’t in their hands. Even if they manage to rekindle their chemistry, they have changed as players since they last played together seven years ago, becoming high-usage type of players.

To make it work, they must first become more effective in their off-ball roles.