James Harden is now 31 and has been in the league for 10 years, yet he's never won a championship. Some think it's because who the team surrounds him with, some think it's Harden's mentality, well, I'll give you my opinions and information that you didn't know about James Harden in this article.
James Harden is a next level offensive player, we all know that, and although sometimes the front office and coaches don't surround him with the best players for the team's success, a major factor in why Harden hasn't won any championships is himself.
I'm sure we're all familiar with this video, and it speaks volumes about Harden and his attitude. Chris Paul has a we, we, we mentality, and James Harden has a me, me, me mentality. This is the reason that he gets 34 PPG but it's also the reason he doesn't win any championships because like the Warriors always say, strength in numbers. You can't have strength in one guy if the rest of the team isn't getting as involved as they need to be. Now, you might think that this is how the Chicago Bulls played with Michael Jordan, and it is, partially. There were guys that got involved, but it wasn't off the assist. The Bulls offense wasn't a pass first offense, and players rarely scored off of assists. Now, James Harden does get his assists, as he averages 7.5 per game. So I do like the way that Harden can score with ease and be able to dish the basketball at a high level is a good thing for him and his teammates, but Harden's "lack" of effort is sometimes noticeable. See, you may not believe me but just watch Harden play and look at the numbers of stars when guarded by Harden. When Harden is actually trying on defense, he's a solid defender and has very quick hands. However, Harden will often play extremely lackadaisical on defense, and sometimes he plays lazy on offense too, you just don't realize it because he's that good of an offensive player.
So that's my opinion on Harden, but what about the guys that the organization puts around him? The Rockets have poor team spending as of right now. From players like Westbrook down to David Nwaba who is being paid less than $200,000 short of $2,000,000. As for Westbrook, I'll just say this, James Harden will be paid a little above $41,000,000 this season. Russell Westbrook will be paid more. So with heavy cap weights like Westbrook and Eric Gordon ($16,869,276), it makes it difficult for the Rockets to sign another star or simply an above average player.
So what does James Harden and the Rockets organization need to do to win a championship? I cannot emphasize this enough, acquire young talent. The youngest player on the Rockets is 5'9 Chris Clemons at 23. The second youngest player is 27. Now, these older guys will fight as hard as anybody, but they can't fight long term because their body won't physically allow them to. Unfortunately, the Rockets are that team that trades away all their picks. They actually have no picks this year because they traded their only two picks to the Nuggets and the Kings. So a trade would be ideal for the Rockets. Who should they trade for? Well, I have a couple ideas. Derrick Jones Jr. would be option one. As DJJ hits free agency, teams are starting to express interest in the 23 year old Miami forward. I think the Heat could use him well, as he poses a significant lob threat that James Harden could use while driving to the basket and he also is a paint player which the Rockets need. So the small ball lineup may have worked this year, but I don't think it can work long term to win this team a championship. So I'm suggesting that this team should go after a center and go back to being a regular basketball team. So DJJ can actually play both SF and PF which would offer flexibility for the Rockets. Another player I would like to see the Rockets trade for is Aaron Gordon. Gordon would also pose as a significant lob threat and paint presence. I don't want to talk too much about Gordon because my next article is going to be about him and why he needs to get out of Orlando. So who would Houston trade for Jones Jr. and Gordon? So for DJJ, I would trade Eric Gordon. Gordon would bring more three point shooting and another player that can drive to the hoop. If Miami is not open to accept Gordon's extensive contract, then I would consider Danuel House and Chris Clemons, as the Heat will be getting two cheap three point shooters who can also drive to the hoop and finish. As for Gordon, they will need to trade a little more. The ideal trade here would be Robert Covington and major cash considerations, but the Rockets wouldn't want to give up Covington and I personally would like to see Gordon at the PF spot and Covington finally at the SF spot where he belongs. So instead of that I would trade P.J. Tucker and Austin Rivers. This means that the Magic are getting two physical players that will give it everything they have at all times. The Magic need this, as they don't have any players like Tucker and Rivers. that will sacrifice their body and get in on every defensive play. I truly think this trade works out for both teams.
So imagine if the Rockets had a lineup of a hopefully healthy Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington, and Aaron Gordon, plus backups like Ben McLemore. These players could tremendously help James Harden both on the offensive and defensive ends. Harden has two lob threats, plus two three point shooters in Covington and Eric Gordon. I know this lineup is small, and I would like to see the Rockets get a center so Gordon could play at the PF, Covington could play at the SF, and Eric Gordon could be the sixth man again. I do have two center options but they aren't great. I believe that they fit the Rockets play style of basketball and could really fit in well with the team. Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes. The only reason I don't like this is because they are both older guys and like I was saying earlier, I would like to see the Rockets acquire some younger talent, but the younger centers in the NBA are just too good right now and teams aren't going to want to give them up for anything.
So that's all for now, until next time, remember, what the Rockets do to compete for a championship has to surface around Harden. Be on the lookout for my next article on why Aaron Gordon needs to get traded coming soon! Thanks for reading!