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Jalen Rose ‘loves’ Houston pairing of Russell Westbrook and James Harden

James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Jalen Rose, Rockets

There’s a fair amount of skepticism to be gleaned from the pairing of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Jalen Rose, though, clearly believes the NBA’s latest superstar tandem has the potential to help the Houston Rockets reach new heights.

On Monday’s edition of Get Up, the ESPN analyst dismissed questions about the fit of Harden and Westbrook, reminding the audience that they won’t have to share the ball with Kevin Durant in Houston like they did as teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder during their first few years in the league.

“I don’t like it – I love it. I love it,” he said of the Rockets’ acquisition of Westbrook.  “Here’s why, here’s the thing that people are underestimating: Stop comparing what they did in OKC, and not mention the fact that they played with the MVP of the league in Kevin Durant, who was also a four-time scoring champion in that uniform.”

The Rockets brought in Westbrook last week with another league-shaking trade, sending Chris Paul, two future first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps to the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s abrupt shift toward rebuilding from contending was sparked by Paul George earlier this month requesting a trade to the LA Clippers to play with Kawhi Leonard. There had been reports of disharmony between Paul and Houston throughout the offseason, too.

The absence of a third world-class scorer certainly ensures Harden and Westbrook will get their fair share of shots. But the latter is a below-average spot-up shooter at best, and both former MVPs have been content standing and watching over the past several years while playing without the ball. Neither is a good team defender, either.

The Rockets are betting talent will render those concerns, and the accompanying sacrifice of long-term flexibility, moot. We’ll start finding out if they’re right come October.