Posted on July 17, 2019, by Travis Pulver
It was the unexpected deal of the summer when the Houston Rockets traded Chris Paul and a few first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. As of Tuesday night, it became official.
But while the move caused oddsmakers to lower Houston’s championship odds from +1400 to +750, many are questioning whether Harden and Westbrook can co-exist. Both are notorious for wanting the ball in their hands as much as possible.
Someone is going to have to bend and defer to the other for the team to work. But many seem to think it will end up being Westbrook; a belief that is somewhat reflected in some of the prop bets being offered on him (via BetOnline.ag):
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- Odds Russell Westbrook Averages a Triple-Double
- Yes +500
- No -1000
- Odds on Russell Westbrook’s Assists Per Game in
- Over 8.5 -115
- Under 8.5 -115
- Odds on Russell Westbrook’s Rebounds Per Game in
- Over 8.0 -115
- Under 8.0 -115
- Odds on Russell Westbrook’s Points Per Game in
- Over 22.5 -115
- Under 22.5 -115
So—how’s he going to do?
According to the oddsmakers, there is only a 16.67 percent chance that Westbrook will average a triple-double next season and a 90.9 percent chance that he will not.
Prior to his MVP season and the first time he averaged a triple-double, betting ‘No’ would have made sense because it was an extremely rare accomplishment that had not been done in many years. But now Westbrook has done it for three consecutive seasons.
While his scoring has gone down, his rebound and assists numbers have gone up. His scoring average may take a dip, but part of the reason the Rockets acquired him to diversify their offense. While they will likely remain dependent on them, Westbrook gives them another viable scoring threat.
However, the only leg of the triple-double he may have trouble with is rebounding. Clint Capela led the way for the Rockets last year with 12.7 rebounds a game. Kenneth Faried, in the 25 games he played with the team, had the next highest average with 8.2 followed by Harden with 6.6.
However, the Rockets were not a strong rebounding team last year. They averaged just 42.1 a game (third-worst in the NBA) while their opposition pulled down an average of 45.4. While the Thunder allowed more (45.7), they ranked second in rebounding with 48.1 a game.
With so much room for improvement, there should be no problem with Capela getting his board and Westbrook getting his. But it would not be shocking at all if he were to average over ten a game again.
In Houston’s offense, and with Harden wanting the ball, he’ll average more than ten a game again. However, the more interesting question is whether he will break John Stockton’s single-season per game average record of 14.54 (set back in 1989-90).
The only under worth considering is the points total. While he will be expected to contribute on offense, the bulk of Houston’s scoring is still going to come from James Harden. Chances are he could still average over 22.5 points a game, but no one has averaged more than Chris Paul’s 18.6 points/game two years ago while playing with Harden in Houston.
So—how should you bet? Take ‘Yes’ on the triple-double, take the over on the assists and rebound totals, and the under on points.