FS1’s Colin Cowherd believes the Houston Rockets’ superduo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden is facing more pressure than any other tandem.
Before a single game was played, it was clear that the 2019-20 NBA season was going to be much different than anything we’d previously seen. We saw countless stars change teams, such as Russell Westbrook, who joined the Houston Rockets, and the Golden State Warriors weren’t the same juggernaut they had been in past years.
With the Dubs out of the way, many believed this put an added amount of pressure on several of the league’s other superstars, as that obstacle was no longer in the way. At the point in which the league was suspended in March, the Rockets held the sixth seed in the Western Conference, although their record was tied with the Chris Paul-led Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth seed.
Although there was initial doubt regarding whether the league would be able to finish the season, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the season will resume in a bubble-setting, which will take place in Orlando, albeit four months after the last games will have been played.
As the NBA prepares for it’s unprecedented bubble restart, many in the basketball world have compiled their list of players that need to deliver the most. FS1’s Colin Cowherd joined the fray and provided his list on his show The Herd with Colin Cowherd, and his top five is listed below.
5. Paul George-LA Clippers4. Russell Westbrook-Houston Rockets3. James Harden-Houston Rockets2. Anthony Davis-Los Angeles Lakers1. Khris Middleton-Milwaukee Bucks
For starters, this list is quite egregious, on many levels, and it’s impossible to not notice that he has the Rockets as the only team with multiple players inside his top-five. Cowherd’s justification of Russ and Harden is below.
“Russell Westbrook. First round exits last three years. And let’s be honest. He’s unraveled in the postseason. So the visual resume is he yells at fans, he yells at people.
James Harden is considered an all-time great player. And James Harden is the guy that Daryl Morey has said I haven’t given him enough players. So the pressure is on James Harden and he’s got a series of letdowns.
I think alot of times we excuse Westbrook because he’s just so hyper-athletic that he just wears out. With Harden, we don’t always think he puts the effort in on the defensive end.”
Sure, Westbrook hasn’t made it out of the first round of late, but alot of that has to do with the lack of productivity from Paul George, who was an “MVP candidate” last year. During the Thunder’s opening round series against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019, Westbrook led the team in rebounds and assists, while also shooting a higher 3-point percentage than George. And regarding the narrative that Russ “yelling at fans and people,” that’s also false.
As for Harden having postseason letdowns, not only is that incorrect, but he’s performed better than many players who are viewed as clutch players in the league.
There's been alot of James Harden hatred circulating the airwaves lately so I thought it would be a good time to bring this back. pic.twitter.com/82d4BLO8J2
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) June 11, 2020
On top of that, the narrative of Harden not “putting forth effort on the defensive end” is also inaccurate, as he’s become one of the best post defenders in the league, especially this season.
At the end of the day, it’s okay for Cowherd to make his argument, but it’s also okay for us to point out when he’s wrong.