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James Harden v Russell Westbrook: Who will have more success this season?

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James Harden and Russell Westbrook are set to do battle tonight in the first of four encounters between the two former teammates this season.

When recently asked about the situation in Oklahoma City, 'the Beard' simply stated that the Thunder are now a one-man team - something we all knew the moment Kevin Durant decided to take his talents to the Bay Area.

It seems pretty rich coming from Harden, however. The now-point guard's only former All-Star teammate from last season, Dwight Howard, left in the summer, leaving him the keys to the city.

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Both players have been on a quite unbelievable tear to begin the campaign as their respective franchises languish around .500. Not since Oscar Robertson - the only person in history - in 1966 has some achieved a 30 point, 10 assist season, but these two superstars are threatening to do so.

Westbrook is currently averaging an unreal 32 points, 9.9 assists and 9.7 rebounds for Oklahoma City, recording three triple-doubles and eight double-doubles in their 11 games.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers

For Harden, he is second only to his former teammate in triple-doubles, with two and has recorded seven double-doubles - again, only trailing to Russ. His 30.3 points and 12.6 assists a game put him top five in scoring and first in providing buckets for his teammates. 

But who will have more success in the Western Conference this season? While neither is expected to really challenge, it would be a surprise if either ended up outside the top eight - given the superstars stay healthy. 

Houston Rockets v Washington Wizards

Both supporting casts need work if they are to be in the same class as Golden State, the Clippers and San Antonio, but it appears the Rockets are better prepared for facilitating their big name. 

Mike D'Antoni and the team's front office moved to add Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in the summer, two spot-up shooters who can stretch the floor, giving Harden plenty of space to maneuver. 

D'Antoni's seven seconds or less offence, coupled with these two guys on the perimeter has allowed Harden to almost double his assist output from last season. The guard's ability to drive to the hoop also allows causes opposition defences to collapse and open up space behind the arc.

Coupled with the improved play of Clint Capela at center and Harden's ability to knock the ball down from range, the Rockets do have a much stronger starting five than last season. 

As for OKC, they have good defenders and good attackers, but no real two-way players. Victor Oladipo was brought in to try and help entice Durant to stay, now that has failed, he's struggling to establish a presence on offence - although his defence is lockdown. 

Enes Kanter and Steven Adams are two big presences at the five spot, but again, the Kiwi is struggling to put the ball in the basket, while the Swiss star is excelling. But Adam's defence is crucial. 

Put simply, the Rockets and Harden have a more well-rounded team. It's not spectacular, but it suits their star man and style of play.

With the 27-year-old's superior clutch shooting - he is 46% on his 59 field goal attempts with the score differential within five and less than five minutes remaining in the game, compared to Westbrook's 42% on 67 tries - there is hope yet for the Rockets. 

The Thunder, unfortunately, are first round playoff exiters at the very, very most.

Topics:
NBA
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division
Russell Westbrook
James Harden

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