The 2016-2017 campaign for the Houston Rockets has been defined by James Harden’s performance. He’s played wonderfully, but he’ll need help from his teammates if they’re to continue winning.
The Houston Rockets have been playing well, snagging two straight wins against probably playoff teams in the Western Conference. In both games (as well as nearly every other game this year), James Harden put up ridiculous numbers. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, he posted a triple-double. Then, he scored 31 points along with 10 assists verses the Utah Jazz, while avoiding accruing any turnovers.
The rest of the Rockets haven’t been bad this year, but Harden has most certainly been carrying a heavier load than the vast majority of his peers. If Houston is to make a deeper playoff run than they did last year, more of Harden’s teammates will have to step up.
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To elaborate on my point, Kelly Scaletta of Bleacher Report highlighted three players who could be producing more. The biggest issue with unbearded Rockets is their collective lack of playmaking. If that could change, Harden’s load could be lighter.
Anderson is shooting 47.1 percent from deep off Harden’s passes. That part is working.
What’s problematic is Anderson becomes useless when Harden sits. He’s shooting just 25.0 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from deep without the Houston star.
One player who has done more than his fair share of stepping up is Sam Dekker. Jeremy Brener of The Dream Shake writes on how well the second-year forward is progressing. He’s shooting a blistering 45.5% from beyond the arc and has been eager to get to the rim as well. If this streak continues, the Rockets will have a solid scorer in Dekker for years to come.
"The Wisconsin product doesn’t look like a second-year player who practically redshirted last season. He’s basically still a rookie, but he is thriving in this Rockets offense. He’s been an unexpected and much-needed spark off the bench. In some games, he has been as high as the second man off the bench, and he still is not done in his ascent to explore his potential in the rotation."
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Though Harden would probably like to be able to have more rest, he doesn’t seem to need it. According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, the Beard is playing at MVP level so far this year. He may get rewarded for his efforts this year if the Rockets continue to win as much as they have so far. It’s tempting to say his current level of play isn’t sustainable, but there’s no proof of that yet.
"“We’ve been playing against each other since high school,” Patrick Beverley said. “[Harden] can ball, man; he doesn’t get enough credit. I feel like he’s the best playmaker in the NBA right now. His IQ is high; every year he gets better. I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit, but it’s cool. We’re going to turn it around this year by getting wins instead.”"
After a two-game home stand, the Rockets will play four of their next five games on the road. If their on-court chemistry continues to improve, they could return home with a record that would be worthy of home-court advantage spot in the playoffs.
Keep up with Space City Scoop for all the Rockets-related news and updates that you could ever want as the season progresses.