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Russell Westbrook and James Harden must change their games for Houston Rockets pairing to work | NBA News

The Russell Westbrook-James Harden reunion in Houston is a pleasant story, however each guards must modifications to make for the pairing to work.

Everybody is aware of that Westbrook and Harden performed collectively earlier than, which robotically makes their reunion in Houston look like the correct match.

It will not be that simple. They’ve each modified since these days.

However right here they’re, collectively once more after the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder determined to commerce Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and one other load of draft picks that Sam Presti is gathering in the identical approach that sneakerheads hoard classic pairs of Jordans. On the floor, it is a shiny transfer for Houston, two of the final three NBA MVPs, the 2 guys with essentially the most factors over the past 5 seasons, in the identical backcourt.

Per NBA guidelines, there’ll solely be one ball in play, nonetheless.

Russell Westbrook and James Harden together at the All-Star Game
Picture: Russell Westbrook and James Harden collectively on the All-Star Recreation

The time period they use is “ball dominant,” a flowery approach of claiming sure gamers want the ball of their fingers greater than others. Westbrook and Harden are two of these guys. Harden held the ball for almost six seconds – a league-high mark – and took almost six dribbles, on common, each time he touched it final season. Westbrook sometimes held the ball for five.1 seconds, taking almost 5 dribbles each time it was in his fingers.

That may’t proceed. They’re each going to have to alter. And getting big-time stars to alter is rarely simple.

The Rockets know this, after all, however in a Western Convention that noticed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George be part of the Los Angeles Clippers, Anthony Davis be part of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant go away Golden State, they needed to do one thing. Harden and Paul, for no matter motive, did not work out. Title-chasing groups like Houston aren’t inclined to be affected person, so the Rockets took an enormous swing and introduced on Westbrook.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook in opposition at the 2019 All-Star Game 2:27
Following a frenzied interval of participant motion, has the ability within the Western Convention shifted away from the Golden State Warriors?

It is believed that this can be a commerce each Westbrook and Harden wished. When the Thunder determined to deal George to the Clippers in a transfer that each one however introduced that Westbrook could be gone subsequent, it made sense that teaming up with Harden once more could be an choice.

That makes for a pleasant story: former team-mates getting again collectively.

These variations of Westbrook and Harden, nonetheless, have by no means been team-mates earlier than.

They had been youngsters once they spent the primary three seasons of Harden’s profession collectively in Oklahoma Metropolis. They had been making round $4m a yr, not $4m a month. Westbrook was simply changing into an All-Star, Harden hadn’t but reached that stage. They usually had Durant on these OKC groups, the final of which was ok to get to the NBA Finals and get swiftly taken out by Miami in 5 video games.

There is no Durant this time to assist their trigger.

Plus, positive, they spent these three years collectively in Oklahoma Metropolis, however Harden’s function was a lot totally different then. He and Westbrook began collectively in seven video games over these three seasons.

Chris Paul and James Harden pictured after the Houston Rockets playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors
Picture: Chris Paul and Harden pictured after the Houston Rockets playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors

Celebrity duos are all the fashion proper now within the NBA, a primary necessity for any staff excited by successful a title. Harden had them earlier than in Houston. It was him and Dwight Howard for some time, him and Paul for the final couple of years, to not point out him, Paul and Carmelo Anthony for 10 video games this previous season earlier than the Rockets gave up on the ‘Melo experiment.

None of them for Harden labored as deliberate.

Adam Silver addresses the media at an NBA Final news conference 4:04
NBA TV analyst Antonio Daniels reacts to commissioner Adam Silver’s assertion that the league will revisit tampering guidelines within the wake of free company

This one had higher be totally different, for Houston’s sake. Westbrook solely will get older and costlier yearly from right here, which means if this partnership does not work it may very well be troublesome for the Rockets to maneuver him and attempt to create one more star duo for Harden. This transfer means the Rockets are all in – championship or bust.

Harden is elite however has no rings but. Westbrook is elite however has no rings but. They’re going to be comfortable now to be collectively once more, they’re going to be all smiles at media day in September and they’re going to have a super-cool handshake to point out off on nationwide tv on opening evening in October.

Whether or not they’ll nonetheless be smiling come subsequent April, May and June is contingent on each of them being prepared to alter their video games so as to make this work.

In any other case, it’s going to be the identical previous outcomes but once more.

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