Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t care if Russell Westbrook misses if they’re the right shots
Houston will have two of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers on the floor throughout this season in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. To some, it might seem like an ill-advised strategy, as both are known as ball-dominant players who like to shoot the rock. However, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni says he doesn’t mind Westbrook taking and missing shots — so long as they’re the right ones.
“He’ll be standing a lot,” D’Antoni says of Westbrook’s time without the ball. Houston needs him to help space the floor, which is to say it needs him to shoot—even after making just 29.0% of his threes last season, the worst of any player with his volume. “If you take the right shot,” D’Antoni says, “we do not care if you miss shots.”
The Rockets acquired Westbrook by way of a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer. The former No. 4 overall pick is coming off a fine season, though he struggled a bit from beyond the arc. In 73 regular-season appearances (all starts), he racked up averages of 22.9 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field (29.0 percent from downtown), 11.1 rebounds, a career-high 10.7 assists and 1.9 steals in 36.0 minutes per outing. Remarkably, it was his third consecutive season with a triple-double average.
Westbrook spent the first 11 seasons of his NBA career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, though, he’ll look to continue his journey with Houston. While he may not be a good 3-point shooter, D’Antoni and the Rockets want the electric guard to take them instead of forcing up too many tough mid-range shots.