As the 2013-2014 NBA season approaches, shooting guard James Harden is ready to make the superstar leap in the league. Last season, Harden proved that not only could he be a franchise player in the league, but also lead his team to the playoffs in the stacked western conference. In his first season as “‘The Guy’, Harden showed what he could be, and what he could accomplish given more help and talent around him. Signing a max contract with the Houston Rockets after being traded to the team a day before the season started last year, here is where the 6’5 guard can improve his game.
Oct 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) reacts after scoring a basket during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Defensively, Harden was a liability last season. Understanding that he took defensive plays off to save energy for the offensive end, this season has to be different with Dwight Howard in the middle. Harden has come out and said that he wants to hold the opposing teams’ best player next season, and that he has been working hard on his conditioning to play both sides of the ball. That’s a tall task to accomplish, knowing the competition that is out there with such players as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony etc; but with Harden’s athletic ability he could definitely accomplish it if he puts his mind to it.
Harden handled the ball a lot last season for the Rockets, and any player who handles the ball as much as he did will have a high volume of turnovers. Saying that however, does not excuse them or make them less costly to your team. With Howard down low, you can expect that every players’ turnovers will go down, due to a lesser need to beat the opponent off the dribble. You can also expect for Harden to have less pressure to do so much on the offensive end; therefore helping limit turnovers.
Leadership quality is something that every teams’ best player should have. A team that lacks leadership is a team destined for underachievement, and the Rockets definitely can not afford that. Harden needs to make sure the guys go into every game respecting every opponent, and that he gets the most from the 12-man roster every night. We have often seen teams play down to their competition, and that came back and haunted them in the end. In order for the Rockets to get the record, respect, and recognition that they deserve, they must treat every game like a win or go home game.