With the rumors starting to swirl that Russel Westbrook and James Harden will be once again teaming up in Houston it is time to have the conversation nobody wants to have: Can you actually win a championship with the style these two players display? In short, the answer is no.
Listen, there is no denying that James Harden is one of the most prolific scorers to ever touch a basketball. Regardless of whether or not you think Harden is legit is irrelevant, the dude can flat out score. Period. Russell Westbrook also gets a lot of flack because people think he is a stat patter. Which is fine, think that all you want. But you cannot discount averaging a triple double for an entire season once, let alone three times. These two are some of the most talented and athletic individuals to ever hold a basketball.
With that in mind, what does it take to win an NBA Championship? If we have learned anything from the Spurs and Warriors runs these past couple decades, it’s the importance of team basketball. Tim Duncan, arguable one of the best to ever play, was a star in his own right. But he was always more interested in the investment of improving those around him than he was scoring that extra basket. One could say the same about Stephen Curry; the greatest shooter to ever step on the court also knows that, though he can drop 50+ points on any given night, having his teammates involved is far more valuable in the prospect of winning an NBA Championship.
James and Russell both hold onto the basketball far to long to even consider that, together, they’d be successful. If this trade goes through, and Westbrook and Harden once again end up playing together, do not be surprised if they suddenly find themselves winning less than 50 games. Having one player who plays Iso-Type Basketball is hard enough, but to have two?
Harden and Westbrook both need to handle the ball to be successful. Harden tends to be pretty laxed on defense, and Westbrook spends more time living in his emotions than he does winning championships. It is no accident that the only time they’ve been in the NBA Finals was early on in their career, when they had Kevin Durant there as the dominate scorer. This forced them to play team basketball, as they both knew it was Durant’s team before it was theirs. When Harden was traded and Durant left, this allowed Westbrook to take over and Harden to become his own player.
Playing Iso-Ball doesn’t make you a bad player, nor does it make it impossible to win a Championship. Simply said, having two people who need to have the ball in their hands to make an impact is not the solution to winning. A winning formula would consist of good defense, team ball, and solid chemistry. Having these two players on the same team would eliminate that formula, and rather provide the NBA with some solid drama to enjoy for the upcoming NBA Season as we wait until next year to see Irving and Durant together.
Mark my words, screenshot this article, and we will chat in a few years. James Harden and Russell Westbrook will never win an NBA Championship until they learn how to make their teams better, and not just win by scoring as much as they can on their own.
Featured Photo Credit – GQ Illustration
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