Harden or Westbrook: Who takes the final shot?

The Houston Rockets recently acquired Russell Westbrook, pairing him with former teammate James Harden once again. These two have had success together before, but years later, these are two very different players. Players who are used to handling the ball and taking the last shot. Now when the game is on the line, who takes the last shot becomes the question.
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Russell Westbrook” and “James Harden” by Keith Allison and “2013 Houston Rockets 1” by Michael Tipton are licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After the breaking news of Russell Westbrook being traded to the Houston Rockets, you know I was scrolling through my Bleacher Report feed to get all the details. I mean, where else would I be after a blockbuster trade?

As I was scrolling through my feed, I can across a photo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. There was a question above this photo, asking, “Who should take the final shot” Normally when there’s more than one star on a team, this question can be difficult to figure out. However, in my mind, this time it’s easy.

 

Who should take the final shot?

While this may seem like a tough question to answer, I have no hesitation when I say it should be James Harden. James Harden should 100% take the final shot. Let me tell you why.

 

This is Harden’s team

First off, the Houston Rockets are James Harden’s team. He is the leader. He’s been their leader since arriving there in 2012. Every time a big shot needed to be made, it’s been James Harden.

Yes, technically the Rockets are now Russell Westbrook’s team too, but Westbrook is just coming over from OKC. Now being in Houston, Westbrook can still be a leader, but he’s not going to be ‘the guy.’

This is similar to when Chris Paul came over from the Clippers. Chris Paul is a star, but from the moment he arrived in Houston, there was never a doubt as to who’s team this was. It was always Harden’s team. With Westbrook now there, nothing should change. This is James Harden’s team, and there should be no question about it.

 

The numbers

As usual, I can’t state my opinion without supporting it with some sort of numbers. Here, I’m going to compare the shooting numbers for both Westbrook and Harden throughout their careers.

James Harden

  • 44.3 FG%
  • 50.6 2PT%
  • 36.5 3PT%

Russell Westbrook

  • 43.4 FG%
  • 46.5 2PT%
  • 30.8 3PT%

After comparing their shooting numbers, it’s clear James Harden is the better shooter. Throughout his career, Harden has shot 0.9% better than Westbrook overall, 4.1% better on 2PT shots and 5.7% better on 3PT shots.

When it comes down to hitting a game winner, who would you rather have? Would you rather have the guy with better shooting percentages all-around (Harden), or the other guy (Westbrook)? Don’t get me wrong here, Russell Westbrook has hit his fair share of game winning shots during his career, but when it comes down to it, James Harden is clearly the guy who’s got a better chance of making the shot.

James Harden is not only the leader of this team, but he’s the better shooter between him and Westbrook. If it comes down to Russell Westbrook taking a shot to win the game, there’s a good chance he’ll hit it. He’s done it many times before. However, if you ask me, when the game is on the line, I want James Harden taking the shot.

 

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