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James Harden or Chris Paul: Who faces more pressure?

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Does James Harden or Chris Paul face more pressure to succeed next season?

In an effort to find a new home, face a new challenge and have a better chance to compete for an NBA title, Chris Paul notified the Clippers that he was looking at other teams in free agency. And the Clippers granted Paul’s wish, sending him to Houston to team up with James Harden and the Rockets.

Both Harden and Paul are ball-dominant superstars, and with only one ball to share, Mike D’Antoni will need to keep everyone happy. With potential chemistry issues and just one year left on Paul’s contract, the trade for CP3 was definitely a risk.

If the move doesn’t pan out, Paul can bolt in free agency leaving the Rockets with nothing in return. If the Rockets trade Paul mid-season, they’re unlikely to receive equal trade value, because other teams will view him as a rental. Obviously, if the Paul-Harden experiment is a failure, it will have irrevocable consequences on the franchise.

With that being said, the Rockets are pretty confident that the duo can co-exist just fine. James and Chris are two of the most high intelligent players in the NBA. And even more importantly, they’re both driven by the same goal: winning.

Harden’s playoff reputation took somewhat of a hit last season. After eliminating the one man wrecking crew that is Oklahoma City, San Antonio’s spread-it-around approach and lock down defense was too much for Houston to overcome. Harden struggled in the series, he shot just 41.4 percent and averaged 5.2 turnovers a game. Harden having his shot rejected by a 39-year-old Manu Ginobili in Game 5 basically summed up the series. It was an uphill climb.

With Chris Paul nearing the end of his prime and James Harden’s ability to carry a team to the Finals in question, which player faces the most pressure heading into next season?

The pressure is on Chris Paul

I say this with a lot of confidence: Chris Paul faces more pressure than James Harden next season.

Sure, Harden carries the burden of being the face of the franchise, but that’s a responsibility that every great player has.

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Chris Paul, at 32 years old, has already reached his peak in the NBA. Paul is an all-time great point guard who would be a lock for the Hall of Fame if he retired today. For all of his amazing accomplishments, there is one accolade that is blatantly absent from his resume. CP3 has failed to win an NBA championship, or even make the Conference Finals for that matter.

Tracy McGrady was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, and there were plenty of articles that detailed his career. Nearly every article described how great of a player that T-Mac was, despite his lack of postseason success.

When we’re comparing all-time greats – championships do matter – a lot. Comparisons between LeBron James and Michael Jordan nearly always ends in the fact that LeBron doesn’t quite have six rings. For Chris Paul to really climb the all-time charts, he needs to capture that ever so elusive Larry O’Brien Trophy.

With the dominant Warriors in the West and LeBron James lurking in the East, the road to victory will surely be a long one. But that’s a road that Chris Paul and the Rockets are willing to travel, or else he wouldn’t have come here in the first place.

Next: Could James Harden become the best player in Rockets history?

As the saying goes, “time is of the essence,” and its also why Chris Paul carries more pressure than James Harden.