Should the Rockets rest James Harden until he’s fully healthy?

James Harden #13 of the James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets’ superstar James Harden caused quite a scare when it was initially announced that he suffered an injury during Saturday night’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets. But upon second thought, should the Rockets let Harden rest until he’s fully healthy?

As you probably already know by now, Houston Rockets‘ guard James Harden suffered a toe injury during Saturday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, which caused him to miss Sunday night’s loss against the New Orleans Pelicans. In that game, the Rockets were actually playing without Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Clint Capela, which makes it unsurprising that they lost.

The real surprise is the fact that the Rockets were actually winning 93-86 heading into the fourth quarter, while also playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets ultimately lost due to the Pelicans’ 3-point barrage in the fourth quarter, but there were many positives to take away from the loss. For starters, Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni was forced to play reserves such as Chris Clemons and Isaiah Hartenstein, and they showed justification for more playing time. This begs the question of whether the Rockets should allow Harden to take his time upon returning.

This would be a logical move considering the fact that Harden is playing his most minutes per game since the 2015-16 season, and he’s currently averaging the second-most minutes per game in the entire league this season. It’s beyond obvious that Harden needs to somehow be able to rest, and we all know he’s not open to the idea of load management.

It’s commendable that Harden wants to play even while banged up, but the reality is the Rockets don’t need him playing through injuries at this point in the season. And considering the current climate of the NBA where stars are resting games and taking nights off, Harden should sit out considering the fact that he has a legitimate injury. Because despite the fact that there will have been three days between Harden’s last game versus the Nets and the Rockets’ next game against the Denver Nuggets, Harden still has a questionable tag heading into Tuesday’s game, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

And while there will certainly be a drop off without the best player in the league on the floor, the fact that the Rockets played so well on Sunday without three starters bodes well for their chances of winning without Harden.

The Rockets will get Westbrook back, as he was resting for load management, which will make it even easier to survive without Harden. On top of that, the Rockets now have Eric Gordon back, who looked good in his return on Sunday. Gordon had 20 points and shot 50 percent from the field and an impressive 57.1 percent from 3-point range, which is very encouraging.

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Granted, the Rockets will lose some games without Harden, which will be costly in the crowded Western Conference where every game matters, sure, but it’s not like it will prevent the Rockets from making the playoffs either. This would give Harden a much needed breather and time to rest and fully recover, which the Rockets can afford to do. The other alternative is allowing him to play injured and never allowing him to get fully healthy, and the last thing the Houston Rockets need is for Harden to be less than 100 percent during the postseason.