A few days ago many media outlets reported that basketball superstar and former MVP Russell Westbrook was diagnosed with Coronavirus. This news caused a lot of speculations about the Rockets replacing Russell Westbrook or if he would even make it into the bubble safely before the season starts for the Rockets in Orlando. In this article I will be taking a dive into how this diagnosis will affect the Houston Rockets during the rest of the regular season and playoffs. If you have not already, please remember to go check out my SportsCastr channel which is called Mitchy Sports where I cover all things sports related and also did a video breaking the news about Russell Westbrook getting Coronavirus.
Right now in the NBA Western Conference standings the Rockets are in 6th place. Three quarters of the regular season games that the Rockets played before the NBA stoppage had Westbrook playing 30 plus minutes a game. Westbrook had a huge impact on the floor when he was playing, especially after the All-Star break. Westbrook's stats this season so far are 27.5 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 1.7 steals a game on a solid 47.4 percent shooting. This season was one of Westbrook's most efficient seasons and also his best shooting performance from inside the arc. Westbrook was the second leading scorer for the Rockets behind James Harden and did a lot of positive things including moving them into the top three in pace and leading them in steals per game tied with James Harden. The statistical value and locker room presence that Westbrook brings is key to getting wins and running a successful team. The fight for power in the Rockets locker room is over because they brought in Russell Westbrook this season who has not fought for touches like Chris Paul and past Rockets stars.
Russell Westbrook getting Coronavirus is a huge setback for the Rockets playoff hopes. The Rockets have been experimenting and gelling together as a team before the NBA stoppage. The Rockets are considered to be a team in the Western conference to watch out for in the playoffs. Even some analysts put them in a Western conference match up against the Lakers and have them winning. These predictions were made when Westbrook was healthy. With Westbrook now being out it is going to force the Rockets to potentially move players like Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon to the starting point guard role. By having these players start and take big-time shots it weakens the Rockets fire power and offensive flow. Also, having a player like Austin River or Eric Gordon starting means that the Rockets pace goes down and Mike D'Antoni's purpose as the Rockets head coach becomes more unnecessary. This is due to D'Antoni's quick offensive coaching style which would not fit with the Rockets new point guard. Another big thing to note with starting another point guard is that the Rockets point guard position becomes even weaker defensively. This is because other than Russell Westbrook the Rockets only have offensive oriented point guards who can't play any defense on the perimeter or inside. For example, Austin Rivers is not known as a perimeter defender and has a low defensive rating which makes the Rockets extremely vulnerable on defense. At least Russell Westbrook played solid perimeter defense.
The one last option that Rockets have to replace Westbrook is by signing a player in the free agency pool. With players like Jamal Crawford and Tyler Johnson signed, it makes the chances of the Rockets finding a good point guard very slim. There are some veteran players left that the Rockets might be interested in but they might not perform to the level the Rockets need.
The Rockets are in a very tough situation with Russell Westbrook out due to Coronavirus. With less than 15 days left until the resuming of the NBA season, Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets need to make a decision on their plan for the point guard position quickly before time is up. If you want to find out more about NBA news and want to see more sports content, go check out my SportsCastr channel Mitchy Sports and my Tecmo Hole page. Bye and stay safe!