Many of the #Rockets players have been in LA this week working out and practicing together. Today is no different. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are currently working out together at UCLA.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) August 15, 2019
The Rockets are a team that will be looking to take advantage of the now wide open Western conference. It’s worth noting that, despite all the attention given to some other teams in the west, the Rockets have had the best record in the league the past two seasons. If Westbrook can prove to be an upgrade over Chris Paul in the Rockets’ system, they’ll have a chance to make some serious noise. After Westbrook’s MVP season, his production has gone down the past two seasons. At 30 years of age and now likely having to defer to Harden, it’s possible he’s already hit his statistical peak. Regardless of whether he succeeds in having a resurgent season, it’ll at least be interesting to see him try, and see how the Rockets adjust to accommodate him.
Russell Westbrook Fantasy Stats
Despite Westbrook seeing a decrease in efficiency the past couple years, he’s still averaged a triple double for three consecutive seasons. Despite all the ruckus on his methods to get them, in the end, he still gets the triple doubles, and that’s what matters most. While it may be hard to see him averaging a triple double for his fourth year in a row on his new team, he’ll still likely continue to be one of the most versatile guards in the league. If his shooting stroke bounces back and he’s able to successfully buy in and integrate himself into the Rockets’ scheme, he and Harden would probably become the best backcourt in the league. His ceiling is a season where he averages 25 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals a game.
There was a reason many people were skeptical when the trade went down, as it feels like Westbrook and Harden just aren’t compatible style wise. If Chris Paul, a ball dominant guard who could shoot, beefed with Harden, how will he react to Westbrook, a ball dominant guard that for the most part can’t shoot. Yes, it’s true that Harden and Westbrook have a history together, but a lot of things have changed since they were teammates all those years ago on the Thunder. In a worst-case scenario, Harden and Westbrook are unable to coexist, creating tension that turns Houston into one of the most dysfunctional teams in the league. That would likely result in a season where Westbrook averages 20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and one steal a game on poor shooting splits.
What to Expect
Westbrook is currently ranked as the 3rd best point guard in fantasy and the 7th best player overall. He’s expected to be drafted in the first round and has an auction value of $52. While Westbrook’s actual value may have been called into question the past year, his fantasy value is still extremely high. His style of play is very fantasy friendly and while he may not be able to be the man on a championship caliber team in real life, he’s capable of doing so in fantasy.
The Rockets should be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. It feels like they have the most boom or bust potential in the league. It’s possible to see their individual talent coming together as one, resulting in a championship. Conversely, it’s possible Harden and Westbrook will end up butting heads, resulting in a disastrous season where they miss the playoffs. In my personal opinion, I think Westbrook will be willing to accept his role in Houston, but I don’t think he’ll be able to change his game enough to put Houston in the same conversation as teams like the Lakers or Clippers. I think a season where Westbrook averages 22 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1 steal a game is the most likely outcome.
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