On Tuesday night, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden told me what’s led to his impressive preseason showing.
Although Houston Rockets star James Harden will almost certainly not win the MVP this season, he would likely be named the MVP of the Orlando preseason, if such an award existed. Harden has been lights out in each of the Rockets’ three scrimmages, as he averaged 30 points on 41 percent from 3-point range.
Harden entered the NBA’s bubble with questions regarding how much differently his game was going to look after images surfaced showing him donning a much slimmer frame. It’s been speculated that Harden lost nearly 20 pounds, which wasn’t viewed as a positive by everyone in the media.
Rockets’ James Harden explains what’s led to his stellar preseason play
But Harden hasn’t missed a beat, as he’s picked up right where he left off, showing that he’s ready for the regular season to resume, which is encouraging for Houston Rockets fans to hear. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to ask Harden what’s led to his impressive play, and he gave me the below response:
James Harden on what's caused him to have a stellar preseason: "Conditioning, extra sprints after practice and pushing myself to be the best I can be."
— Anthony Duckett (@a_duckett) July 29, 2020
It’s no surprise that Harden has been conditioning his body and staying in elite shape, as he put himself through a rigorous boot camp in the desert-dry heat of Phoenix, Arizona. We also saw videos of Harden training, once with former Houston Rockets forward Michael Beasley, and another of him working on his jumpshot back in Houston, while the team was in Orlando.
Harden later explained that the teams that will have the most success in the bubble will be those whose players condition their bodies and do the little things that will make the biggest difference. Harden and the Houston Rockets closed out the preseason with a 2-1 record, although they were winning at the time Harden was removed from their opener against the Toronto Raptors in the third quarter, which is they only game they lost.
The Rockets will resume regular season play on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, who they played twice through their first 64 games, posting a 1-1 record. Interestingly enough, the Rockets’ lone victory over the Mavs came after the strategic small ball shift. The Rockets will face a test without Eric Gordon, who got injured in the final preseason scrimmage against the Boston Celtics, which will force other players to step up.
Fortunately for Rockets fans, Harden has been putting in the extra work to make him even better than he’s been thus far, which will prove to be a problem for opponents. At least it has through the first three scrimmages.