This Duo Might Be Trouble, and Not In A Good Way


At last, the NBA regular season is back and better than ever. The West has become balanced thanks to Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors ending the notorious streak of the Golden State Warriors; the East has some new company with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going to Brooklyn; and all of the other surprising trades made by GM’s are now taking full effect. Trades continue, such as Kemba Walker going over to Boston, Kawhi taking his talents to Los Angeles for the Clippers, Anthony Davis coming over to the Lakers to form the feared duo of Lebron and The Brow, and many more. The most surprising trade of them all, however, happened right in Oklahoma with Russell Westbrook ending his Thunder days and beginning a new chapter in Houston with James Harden.

For many, Westbrook’s decision came as a surprise. Russell had always been loyal to the team and had never even hinted that he might leave any time soon, but in reality, you can only try so many times with a team. Westbrook has played with players such as Kevin Durant, Paul George, Steven Adams and James Harden. (Although in the years 2009 through 2012, which was when Harden was at the Thunder, James was still developing as a player).

Now with Westbrook finally giving up on the idea of winning a ring in OKC and moving on to the Houston Rockets, it seems as though Russell is coming full circle, almost writing the same story, just at a different team. Sure, Houston might be a different atmosphere, and it could mean better opportunities for Westbrook, but is it such a good idea to team up a former leader and a current leader on one team? If you think about it, the rosters of OKC and the Rockets are similar, in a way. Both teams have four star caliber centers, with Steven Adams (OKC Thunder) and Clint Capela (Houston Rockets). Both teams have great shooters such as Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets) and Andre Roderson (OKC Thunder) on top of deep, solid benches.

Even so, putting Westbrook on a team with James Harden might not necessarily come up with the results fans expect. Yes, Westbrook and Harden played together for three years, and they did play well together at that time, but a lot has happened these past seven years. James Harden has solidified himself as the top shooting guard in this day’s league and most definitely is one of the best scorers in the league. In fact, he was named the “Western Conference Player of the Month” for averaging 43.6 points per game in the month of January, an outstanding stat. Along with the 43.6 points per game, he also averaged 7.6 assists, 8.7 rebounds and 2.07 steals.

These stats altogether solidify just what kind of year Harden had, earning him the top running stop alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo (who ended up winning the NBA MVP of the League Award last season).

Russell Westbrook has had accomplishments of his own, being awarded the NBA MVP in the 2016-17 season, with multiple scoring titles and multiple seasons in which he averaged a triple-double all season. You would think that with these two All-Star/MVP caliber players on one team, no one would be able to stop them, but just think about where these two players are in their careers. Westbrook was the best player on his team for his entire time at the OKC and basically led them all those years, and Harden is the current leader of the Rockets, leading them to the Playoffs time and time again.

Both of these guys are leaders; they are both court generals. It doesn’t work when you have two court generals on the floor at once, especially if they are both used to having the ball in their hands the majority of the time. Duos such as Dwayne Wade and Lebron James worked out because Dwayne Wade decided that he would let Lebron be the top man in Miami, when really Wade had the potential to be better than people gave him credit for. Wade was humble enough to do so, but I’m not so sure that will be the case in Houston.

Sure, they will probably still land themselves in the 2nd-5th seed, getting 44 plus wins on the season, but come Playoffs time, they could easily come crumbling down just as quickly as they came together. If history has shown us anything, it’s that Russell Westbrook has choked one too many times, and James Harden has had too many WCF flops.