With the starters of the NBA All-Star game being announced Thursday night, the Houston Rockets are now only a few weeks away from the halfway point of the season.
Unfortunately, none of the Houston Rockets players landed a Western Conference starter position. Rockets superstar James Harden finished fifth in voting among Western Conference guards with 430, 777 votes. Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Klay Thompson all received more votes than the Rockets star guard. Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant lead all all-star vote-getters with a staggering 1.9 million votes.
Although its disappointing for Rockets fans not to see any of their players snag a starting spot in the all-star game, the Rockets have more serious things to be worried about.
After contending for a championship just a season ago, the Rockets have since under performed more than any other team in the NBA. With a .500 record of 22-22, the Rockets are currently riding a two game losing streak.
Here are your Western Conference starters for the 2016 NBA All-Star game: pic.twitter.com/6oOJPYACaF
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2016
Though I believe Harden is as good as any of the Western Conference starters, the Rockets record speaks for itself, and it makes sense that Harden should go without the all-star nod.
As of recent, the Rockets have been playing better basketball having won six of their last seven games before their most recent two-game losing streak. Dwight Howard, in particular, was playing some of the best basketball of his Rockets’ career before suffering an ankle sprain.
Despite the Rockets recent success, however, fans have little to take comfort in as the Rockets have demonstrated time and time again this season that they lack consistency.
The Rockets are among the league’s worst defensive teams. Playing some of the best offense in the league, the Rockets lose so many games because they are unable to stop their opponent from scoring the ball. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has often mentioned that the team’s success depends on whether or not they choose to play defense.
At this point it is no coincidence that the greatest complaint cast against the Rockets is the same complaint cast against the team’s best player– a lack of defensive effort.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Though I think Harden’s idleness on defense is exaggerated, I am positive that Harden doesn’t play with the defensive intensity of the league’s all-time greats. Instead of going out each night with the intention of being the best player on the court, Harden should approach each game with the goal of playing harder than everybody else on the floor.
Don’t get me wrong, Harden is not the only problem on the Rockets. In all honesty, I’m not even sure he is the main problem. That being said, James Harden is the leader of the Rockets. If the team lacks intensity, Harden is not setting a proper example.
As the Rockets approach the halfway point of the season, they’re beginning to run out of time for excuses.
Seeing that a coaching change is unlikely to come until the end of the season, and any players acquired before the trade deadline will only be role players, the team’s success rests on the shoulders of James Harden.
Harden has the talent of an NBA champion. The question is whether or not Harden and the Rockets have the willpower to push themselves over the hump that stands between them and a title.
Watch James Harden and the Rockets tonight as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the Toyota Center.
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