James Harden sounds pumped up about playing with Russell Westbrook again and thinks they can do some big things.
The Houston Rockets were being left behind this summer as many teams around the league improved. But then they got in on the mix in July by trading Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Westbrook.
Playing with Westbrook reunites the two; they were also teammates on the Thunder before Harden was traded to Houston in 2012. They also know each other from youth basketball in the Los Angeles area.
Harden knows what kind of style Westbrook brings to the table and thinks the 2016-2017 NBA MVP is a “killer.”
“But I’m more excited to go into war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog,” Harden told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “Somebody that’s a killer, for real.”
As much as that’s Harden talking up Westbrook, it also can be interpreted as Harden pointing out qualities his previous running mate — Chris Paul — may have lacked. After all, it was CP3 who was supposed to help the Rockets cash in on a title, but Paul kept getting hurt and missing time, leaving much of the load to Harden.
Maybe Westbrook’s “dog” mentality is what Houston needs to take the next step. Harden seems to think so.
James Harden still seems a little annoyed with the media over their selection of Giannis Antetokounmpo for NBA MVP.
Harden came in second in MVP voting last season, receiving 23 percent of first-place votes, compared to 78 percent for Antetokounmpo, who won it. In August, Harden appeared on 97.9 The Box in Houston and said he felt a media-driven narrative helped propel Giannis to the award.
During an interview with GQ to promote his new shoe that was published on Thursday, Harden was asked those comments and whether a narrative has already been constructed entering the upcoming season.
“Nah, it hasn’t happened yet, it’s too early. Wait until the preseason and when the regular season starts up again. But they [the media] for sure got some teams they locked in on. We all know. That’s just what it is. You can’t tell me that a guy whose team was a 14-seed at one point last year, and ended up a four-seed with everything that was going on—so many injuries—and who went on a 32-game 30-point streak, eight 50-point games, two 60-point games in one season…and all the talk was about [Giannis Antetokounmpo]? There’s no way,” Harden told GQ.
“I just had to look at what I could do to get better for next year. You can’t pout or be mad, and the kid had an unbelievable season, so did his team. But the things I was putting up were legendary. You going to look back in 10, 15 years from now and be like, is that really true? Did that really happen? That’s some stuff they were doing back when Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and all those other guys were playing. But I’m happy. We have a team goal of winning a championship, and I’m ready to get going now.”
Harden averaged 36.1 points per game last season, which was the 7th-highest amount ever — behind only guys like Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. However, Harden won MVP the year before, so he could be right that the media wanted to see some variety and focused on Antetokounmpo for the award instead. The other big factor is that Giannis’ Milwaukee Bucks were the top team in the East, whereas Houston began the season poorly. Their respective records likely had a big role in the voting.
These comments may get some attention, but they’re nothing compared to what Houston’s GM said this summer about Harden.
- James Harden
James Harden is a masterful offensive player and may be adding a new move to his arsenal.
Rico Hines, a player development coach for the Sacramento Kings, shared video on Instagram Sunday that shows Harden playing on the practice courts at UCLA. The video shows Harden faking one way and then moving the other to take a running one-legged 3-point shot:
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A post shared by Darico "Rico" Hines (@ricohinesbball) on
Harden’s move seems very atypical. Players use crossover moves, but few ever take long-distance shots on the run the way Harden did. They’re usually moving towards the basket on runners, not going sideways. It takes an incredible amount of leg strength to push off for a shot like that.
Harden has already perfected the step-back 3-pointer and is the best in the league at drawing fouls, which frequently annoys critics.
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey already called Harden the best scorer in history. Despite that label, he is still working constantly to improve.
- James Harden
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is known for having controversial opinions and making bold statements, and he is going to stir things up with his latest comments.
Morey joined “Selfmade with Nadeshot” for an interview. They talked about several subjects, including James Harden. Morey has long been a huge proponent of Harden and even says that the data shows Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan.
Daryl Morey says it’s ‘literally a fact’ that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 16, 2019
“It’s just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan,” Morey said. “You give James Harden the ball, and before you’re giving up the ball, how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense, James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history. And he was No. 1 even with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it was just a little more hidden. So you needed good data to suss that out. So we knew he had that amazing skill to be a scorer.
“Now the counter argument is reasonable. They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now, he would do more than James Harden. That’s possible. But if you’re just saying, NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does this guy score before the other team gets the ball? It’s James Harden.”
The funny thing about numbers is: if you know how to use them, you can make almost any argument you want. Morey is choosing a specific metric for how he measures scoring, and that one indicates Harden is the best. Does that mean Harden is a better or more complete player than MJ? No, but for that particular stat, Harden stands above all others.
As smart as Morey seems to be, even he admits he didn’t think Harden would become as good as he did.
The James Harden and Chris Paul partnership may be over, but Harden still wanted to set the record straight about their relationship.
Harden said Saturday that talk was a “rift” and that he has “nothing negative to say” about Paul after he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
.@JHarden13 on Chris Paul and all the media chatter the last few weeks, said it was all " false talk. Chris was great with him while he was here, great leader. Guys have disagreements on the court all the time. I've got nothing negative to say about Chris." @KPRC2
— Adam Wexler (@KPRC2AdamW) July 20, 2019
Despite Harden’s comments, it’s pretty clear he and Paul didn’t always completely see eye-to-eye. This had been pushed aside by Houston as normal behavior between two stars, but Harden probably doesn’t mind the fact that he’ll instead be playing alongside Russell Westbrook next season.
James Harden and Chris Paul clearly did not get along well last season with the Houston Rockets, and the issues may have come to a boil after they lost their playoff series to the Golden State Warriors this year. Numerous reports claimed the two superstars had an argument in the locker room after the Rockets were eliminated, but the bickering apparently started on the court.
In a recent episode of his “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst revealed some of what it was that Harden and Paul said to one another during that Golden State series. One exchange had to do with what Windhorst described as a “schematic thing” and an issue with spacing, and Harden wanted none of Paul shouting orders at him.
“Chris barked at James, and James turned to him — this was described to me by a player who was on the court — and he said, ‘With you it’s always f—ing something,'” Windhorst revealed.
As Windhorst noted, both Harden and Paul have had issues with teammates in the past. Still, that particular comment sure seems to indicate Harden had grown tired of playing with CP3, and that is likely why he helped nudge the Rockets in the direction of acquiring Russell Westbrook.
We’ve already heard of several reasons why Harden and Paul clashed, and it’s clear the issues were real even if the Rockets tried to downplay them. We highly doubt the two All-Stars will miss one another.
In a summer where superstars across the NBA are calling the shots more than ever before, it looks like that may have been the case once again with the blockbuster trade that saw Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul swap teams.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Westbrook and James Harden began discussing the idea of playing together again as soon as Paul George decided he wanted out of Oklahoma City. Amick says those discussions are what provided the “spark” for the trade between the Thunder and Houston Rockets. The Rockets were also reportedly Westbrook’s No. 1 option when it became clear he was likely to be traded.
Westbrook and Harden were both part of the 2012 Thunder team that lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Harden was traded to Houston not long after that, but he apparently never had any significant issues with Westbrook.
Kawhi Leonard appears to have mapped out his own offseason perfectly, even pulling off a few diabolical moves along the way. However, he is not the only one who influenced the big moves across the NBA this summer. LeBron James clearly had a hand in the trade that brought Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Westbrook and Harden may have helped nudge the Rockets and Thunder in a direction that suited them. Time will tell if it all works out.