In case you thought James Harden only looked like he could ball because he was playing next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook… honestly, if you thought that what guy have you you watching? Harden has been fantastic the last few years. The guy didn’t make the Olympic team because Coach K liked his beard.
One game does not prove a player a No. 1 option, an alpha dog, an elite superstar on a team. But Harden, unleashed from OKC, sure looked the part in his Rockets debut.
Harden put up a monster line — 37 points on 25 shots, plus 12 assists — and led an 11-point fourth quarter comeback as the Rockets beat the Pistons 105-96.
What you want your alpha dog to be is a closer — Harden was that in leading a 33-15 fourth quarter win and comeback by the Rockets. He hit a couple threes, he attacked off the pick-and-roll and got in the lane, he set up his teammates, he was everything you would want.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey had to look at Harden’s shot chart and just grin like a Cheshire Cat — stats tell you the most efficient shots are at the rim or beyond the three point arc, and of Harden’s 25 shots on the night 10 were threes and 11 were in the restricted area.
It was a masterful performance, and frankly we knew Harden had it in him — we saw flashes of this when he played for the Thunder. Watching him in this game, it was clear he reined in some of what he could do to fit in along side Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. We knew he sacrificed. We understood he had more game.
What we didn’t know — what we still don’t know — is if he can do this consistently. Defenses are going to target him, game plans will be drawn up to stop him, and Harden has to produce like this consistently. Jeremy Lin can help — good things happened when he was on the floor for the Rockets and he was a game high +23 on the night and had 8 dimes — but this game showed the Rockets are now Harden’s team. He is the man. The face and beard of the franchise. He is their alpha dog.
And for a night at least, he looked fully up to the task.
LeBron James’ best play from every game in 2016-17 (VIDEO)
I’m not sure it’s possible to argue that LeBron James is not the most important player in the NBA, even in 2016-17.
Yes, others have won the MVP award in years past, but each and every postseason you understand just how important LeBron is to every roster he is on. NBA players even voted him as the player they would most secretly want on their team.
That’s why it’s pretty easy to galvanize that opinion when you watch a 20-minute highlight video of LeBron’s best plays from each game of the past season.
Summer is upon us and even preseason seems like a long way off. Thankfully, we will be able to get to see plays like this here in what feels like the near future.
C.J. McCollum’s cab driver had some hilarious opinions on today’s NBA
I think we’ve all been in the situation that C.J. McCollum found himself in recently.
Whether you are a hardcore NBA fan, a blogger, a professional writer, or a basketball player, when folks interested in the league find out about your passion, they often try to connect with you about it. Which is great! Especially as sometimes you get cats like the one who was driving the Portland Trail Blazers star guard in the video below.
Now, I have to warn you about some NSFW language, but what the guy had to say was pretty great. Hilarious, even.
The topics ranged from superstars being on the same team, to hating the Golden State Warriors, to the future success of the Blazers themselves.
Again, some extremely NSFW language ahead but also some serious laughs to be had.
It was probably damn near impossible to put together at this video.
Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star point guard/human highlight machine, produces enough good content on a given night for multiple highlight videos. Going through and selecting just the best play from each game must have been a difficult challenge.
But here we are.
The NBA published a video to their YouTube channel this week of the single best play from each game of Curry’s 2016-17 season. The result is a 20-minute video that is well worth the watch.
Summer can seem to drag on, but seeing back-to-back plays like this just makes you thirsty for the winter.
James Harden on recruiting Chris Paul from LA: “He didn’t seem happy”
One of the most interesting storylines of the first month of this upcoming NBA season will be the Houston Rockets.
The team has paired MVP candidate James Harden with one of the greatest point guards of all time in Chris Paul, but it remains to be seen whether the two will be able to work together with the kind of efficiency that Mike D’Antoni’s team had in 2016-17.
Harden has been the subject of some chatter already this offseason after a photo of him surfaced on Instagram. In it, Harden looked to have added a significant portion of muscle this summer, which may help him as he moves back to a more off-ball style of play with Paul in the fold.
Harden was also the subject of significant scrutiny at the end of last season, where he failed in the playoffs in spectacular fashion against the San Antonio Spurs.
In a recent interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Harden said his newfound weight gain has been part of his plan to combat late-season fatigue. Harden has also introduced yoga and pilates into his workout routine.
Perhaps more interesting information from Harden’s interview with Amick revealed just how much impact he had recruiting Chris Paul in the trade from Los Angeles Clippers, and Paul’s attitude at the end of the season toward his former team.
Harden, who signed a four-year extension this summer and will earn a combined $228 million by the end of the 2022-23 season, had everything to do with the move.
“I just knew that in the summertime obviously (Paul) was a free agent, and I wanted to see where his head was,” Harden said of Paul, who will now be a free agent next summer. “He didn’t seem happy, so after that we just took it from there.
“Obviously Golden State has been in the Finals and won two out of three, so that’s what everybody is trying to build up against. But we’re right there. We’re right there. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it definitely puts us in a better chance.”
It certainly makes sense that after years of perpetual playoff failure by the Clippers that Paul would want to move on. Harden and CP3 seem to enjoy each other at the moment, and a pairing does seem to make sense on paper. We will see how that plays out over the course of next season.