If Dwight Howard and James Harden would put their differences aside, perhaps they could exceed both their expectations.
Alongside James Harden, the Rockets all-star pair were going to create the next best inside-outside duo in Houston since Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Fast forward three years later, the Rockets are in jeopardy of missing the postseason, and the Golden State Warriors are the team to beat out West.
With rumors about his unhappiness and unwillingness to play with the beard, Howard and Harden have had one odd relationship over the past few months. After their 116-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, many thought the pairing of Howard and Harden had come to an end when trade rumors began to surface around D12.
So, when the trade deadline came to an end last Thursday, it was quite surprising that Dwight Howard was still a member of the Rockets. However, after Tuesday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz, the Rockets’ all-star pair has yet to prove that they are on the same page this season.
James Harden and Dwight Howard getting along just fine… https://t.co/gsojWOYKox
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 24, 2016
With 25 games remaining and free agency a few months away, can Howard and Harden put their differences aside and bring a championship to Houston? Similar to the way Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant did during the early 2000’s.
Shaq and Kobe had eight great seasons together in Los Angeles and became one of the greatest duos ever assembled in sports history. Like Howard, Shaq was a gifted physical specimen who could dominate on both ends of the floor. While Bryant like Harden, was a ball dominant guard who could light up the scoreboard on any given night.
Although they would go on to win three consecutive championships, it took Shaq and Kobe four years before they learned how to win with each other. In fact, their relationship was at its worst during their first three years as teammates. Their lack of chemistry caused the Lakers to lose three consecutive playoff series. Which includes back-to-back eliminations to the Utah Jazz in 1997 & 1998.
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Despite their estranged relationship, Shaq and Kobe finally put their differences aside during the 1999-2000 season and won their first of three championships. When there are two dominant alpha males on the same team, winning a championship will not come overnight, and there will be a few problems. Shaq and Kobe went through the struggle, and now it’s Dwight Howard and James Harden turn.
It’s likely Howard and Harden will never be as dominant as Shaq and Kobe, but the potential is there. Since they became teammates in 2013, The Rockets have possessed the fifth best record in the Association at 138-83. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, based on the average of point total, rebounds, and assists, Howard, and Harden are the fourth most productive duo this season.
Bottom Line: If Howard and Harden can put their differences aside, perhaps they would exceed their 2013 expectations. However, if they fail to do so, the Rockets all-star pair will go down as one of the biggest “what ifs” in NBA history.
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