Bleacher Report went through the NBA’s 22 returning teams this season, naming Houston Rockets star James Harden as a winner in the proposed plan.
When the NBA approves a proposal to resume the season, 22 teams will need to start adjusting to a wildly different way of life. All participating teams still have a shot to become the NBA’s 2020 champion, including the sixth-seeded Houston Rockets. While all teams will be dealing with the same unusual structure of the return, Bleacher Report seems to believe James Harden, in particular, will benefit greatly from the time off.
In their recent list of takeaways regarding the league’s proposed return-to-action, the staff named winners and losers of the NBA’s plan based on their opinions of how the hiatus altered their original paths.
“Harden has put up absurd numbers the past few years, but he’s also played a heavy load of minutes,” said staff writer Sean Highkin. Harden was averaging 36.7 minutes per game this season, which was second in the league behind only Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. He was also in the top three in minutes played per game the season prior, at 36.8.
James has had a tendency to run out of gas in the playoffs, most notably in 2017 against the San Antonio Spurs. By the time the resumption of the season rolls around, he will have had at least seven full weeks without playing his usual minutes in a full NBA game.
The extended rest will benefit every team in a similar fashion, but I can’t help but think it will be especially beneficial for Harden. He’s been taking full advantage of the time off by shedding pounds and training intensely, which others have taken notice of recently.
The best possible thing the Rockets could have hoped for to make a deep playoff push this year is a fresh James Harden, and it’s looking like they’ll have exactly that when the season picks back up.
Pair that with that fact that he’ll much much slimmer and quicker, and you have a dangerous weapon on your hands.