Russell Westbrook is Cutting Three-Pointers Out of His Diet, and It's Working

CJ McCollum, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Tolliver, Anfernee Simons
Russell Westbrook at the rim, where he belongs | Tim Warner/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook is good at many things when it comes to the game of basketball. Shooting from beyond the three-point line is not one of them. He shoots 30 percent from deep on his career, and this season he's been especially putrid, sinking a whopping 23 percent of his three-point attempts on 4.4 attempts per game.

There was a lot of talk early in the season about how he's been one of the worst volume shooters in the NBA for a while now, and that talk didn't miss the mark. But something has happened over the last four games, something wonderful if you're a Rockets fan-- Westbrook has become self-aware. He has taken exactly one three-point attempt in his last four contests, and the results have been outstanding:

As noted in the tweet, he dropped 45 last night on 59 percent shooting. In the stretch he's abandoned the three-pointer, Westbrook has averaged 35 points a night and hitting 58 percent of his shots. They've only managed to win two of those four contests, but Westbrook has been as efficient as we've seen all season on the offensive end. The Rockets have designed an offense that creates the most space possible in the halfcourt, and Westbrook is finally embracing all of that open court without feeling the need to launch from deep.

This is a frightening development for opponents. James Harden is so good that it doesn't matter all that much if Westbrook is out there with Clint Capela as non-shooters. In an ideal world, Westbrook hits often enough from deep to keep the spacing Daryl Morey and Mike D'Antoni value so highly, but nothing is perfect. Westbrook's strength is using his athleticism and floor vision to dash inside the paint and create looks for himself and his teammates. Abandoning his ill-fated attempts from deep only gives him more opportunities to do so, and eliminates wasted possessions.

Shooting one three-pointer every four games isn't really sustainable, even for a player as dangerous as Westbrook. Playoff teams won't hesitate to give him the Tony Allen treatment come postseason; while his skills as a creator won't make him as much of a non-factor as Allen was in the half-court offense, Westbrook will need to hit the occasional three to prevent teams from collapsing the paint on nearly every possession.

But this is how Westbrook will make his impact as a Houston Rocket. He doesn't need to be a deadeye shooter from deep to help the team win basketball games, and he's finally starting to realize it.