Why Harden needs a title to cement his legacy
Harden’s career playoff numbers are significantly lower than his regular season numbers, which is a direct correlation to the Rockets’ postseason failures. The difference between players such as Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone, who are notable NBA stars that finished their career ringless, is that all of those players led their team to the NBA Finals.
Their play in the playoffs improved from the regular season despite their opponents, and their efforts at least put them in position to win a title. Harden has yet to even get the Rockets to the NBA Finals, let alone win a title, so the only thing he can do to right this wrong is to lead the team to the 2020 NBA Finals.
In seven bubble games since the NBA restart, Harden averaged 34.1 points, 8.9 assists, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.7 steals per game. His offensive talent was on full display and his defense and leadership intangibles showed a vast improvement, giving the NBA a taste of how determined he is to prove he can do what everybody says he can’t do.
Harden’s efforts in the bubble earned him a spot on the first ever All-Bubble First Team. Without the services of Westbrook for now, Harden will be the guy the Houston Rockets will lean on more than ever.
But this time, he’s primed to show more trust in his teammates and his abilities on the defensive side of the ball. Harden has everything to prove in this upcoming playoff run, as his regular season legacy is intact, but his playoff legacy is still being written, and he’s the author.