NBA media days are filled with eternal optimism. Two-a-days haven’t even started yet, everyone is healthy and energized, the weaknesses of a team have not been laid bare, and the grind of the marathon season has yet to wear anyone down. Everyone still has a shot.
For Russell Westbrook, media days are also the days for bold proclamations.
That’s so very Russ.
James Harden was not quite as aggressive, but the message was the same.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of individual accolades. Now it’s time to accomplish something together that we haven’t accomplished before.”
There are a lot of questions about just how good Westbrook and Harden can be together. On the surface it’s easy to see the concern: Harden and Westbrook have been two of the most ball-dominant players in the NBA in recent years. Last season, Harden had a usage rate of 40.47, the second-highest in NBA history — behind Westbrook from two years ago. Both players thrive in isolation.
Yet it can work. Not will, but can. Expect a little more classic Mike D’Antoni with him asking Westbrook to push the ball in transition, and it’s easy to picture Harden being the trail man on those plays and stepping into wide-open threes. Also, expect D’Antoni to stagger the minutes for Westbrook and Harden a decent amount.
The offense should work, it should be scary for opposing teams.
Whether the Rockets defense and depth are enough to take them as far as Harden and Westbrook want is another question entirely — one that will not be answered until next April. But this is just media day, so let the optimism and bold proclamations reign.