Before the Houston Rockets lost 92-89 in a preseason game (both team’s openers) to the Memphis Grizzlies, James Harden declared he’s the best player in the NBA. Clearly, this isn’t the case right now.
In our opinion Harden was the deserving MVP of the regular season last season, but it’s not like he was robbed. Stephen Curry wasn’t a surprising choice. In any case, Harden didn’t do anything special in the preseason debut for him and the Rockets, scoring 11 points while shooting 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Obviously, one preseason games means nothing, but in the context of his words and his huge deal with Adidas, he’s obviously going to get a lot more attention than before.
Ty Lawson made his debut for the Rockets in a backcourt that’s going to need a lot of time together in order to mesh and figure out a way that’s going to work for them. Lawson scored 10 points, but either with him or Patrick Beverley on the floor, the Rockets seemed deep in training camp mode, which means a lot rustier than some other teams we’ve seen in the first few days of preseason games so far. Dwight Howard scored 5 points on 2-of-8 from the filled, fitting in quite well with his friends.
Russ Smith was the leading scorer for the Grizzlies with 12 points. For Houston it was Trevor Ariza, scoring 12 points. He didn’t play power forward as Terrence Jones did start, but we might see some small ball options that include Ariza playing the ‘4’, maybe next to Sam Dekker (who had a very forgettable debut), even if Kevin McHale is a firm believer that scoring in the paint is the best way to get points and W’s.
The Grizzlies didn’t give too much time on the floor for any of their key players. Zach Randolph had 5 points in 14 minutes, Marc Gasol finished with 6 points in 15 minutes and Mike Conley had just 9 minutes of basketball, as the Grizzlies begin another season of the same core with minor changes around it, hoping it’s enough to finally win the Western conference. It probably isn’t.