The Houston Rockets pulled off the blockbuster move that was promised after their disappointing playoff exit, acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder to reunite him with James Harden. There are already questions about how Harden and Westbrook will mesh at this stage of their careers, given both players are extremely ball-dominant and Harden has taken his isolation style to the extreme in recent years.
Westbrook, a source said, is intrigued by the possibilities in Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, by the way Houston spreads the floor and often plays without a center clogging the paint. Westbrook’s expectation is that he’ll have more open driving lanes and that he’ll be surrounded by more shooting than he has been in Oklahoma City. He’s excited, the source said, by the challenges he and Harden can create together for a defense.
Harden and Westbrook will certainly put plenty of pressure on defenses. They're still terrific players who are difficult to guard.
However, there has to be concern about the offense stagnating too much, with Harden and Westbrook simply trading isolations and chucking up tough shots. Westbrook's poor shooting limits his effectiveness off the ball, and he'll be off the ball a lot as Harden deliberately works in isolation.
There will need to be some kind of balance struck in the offensive system. The Rockets were already talking about adding more ball movement and pace before this trade was even made, and it would behoove them to stick to that plan with Westbrook now in the fold. D'Antoni is a brilliant offensive mind, so you have to think he'll make sure to get the most out of his two superstars.