How can one of the leading scorers in the NBA be actually harmful to his own team? James Harden is a unique case, but after many have been noticing the weird project the Houston Rockets are running, surrounding Harden with talent that includes Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard and Kevin McHale preferring to stick to a one-man team and offense approach, the hilarious memes about ball hogging and no defense were soon to follow.
When looking strictly at numbers, it’s difficult to see what people have against Harden. After arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder who wouldn’t give him a huge contract, Harden was part of the Rockets team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He averaged 25.9 points per game last season, 5th in the NBA, making his first All-Star game in the process. Many preferred to ignore his tendency to ignore teammates or not play defense, shooting 43.8% from the field while attempting 17.1 shots a night.
This season? Not much of a difference. The Rockets added Dwight Howard to the mix, pretty much announcing that their aiming for the highest goal possible, the NBA championship. However, it takes more than names to win titles and be successful. It takes a head coach who knows how to manage his players, and has more than one offensive schtick up his sleeve, which the entire league has figured out by now. Harden is averaging 24.4 points per game – 5th in the NBA once again. Seemingly one of the best in the NBA, and the real reason the Rockets are doing well (22-13, 6th in the West).
But for those who don’t focus only on numbers, it’s easy to see Harden is a problem, not a blessing sent down from the skies. Enabling him is hurting the Rockets, who should be doing better than being in the bottom half of the playoff standings, which is no different from last season. It eliminates the talents of guys like Howard and Lin, each with his own reason to gripe this season, and it simply makes the Rockets a worse basketball team, which will continue to underachieve until something’s done about this absurd situation which makes them look like a version of the Los Angeles Lakers and their Kobe Bryant obsession, only without the titles.