3. Beal is younger than Harden
Although it feels like Bradley Beal has been in the league forever, as he’s involved in trade talks every year, he’s only 27-years-old. Beal is still in the prime of his career and has shown no signs of regression.
This is important from the Houston Rockets’ standpoint, as they’ve been adamant about the fact that they want a young franchise player for Harden, and Beal checks that box. Beal has a player option that he could exercise at the end of the season, which could make the Wizards feel compelled to deal him. If the Rockets were to acquire him, they would confidently give him a max contract extension, and could expect elite play for the entire time.
Compare that to Harden, who is already 31-years-old and has looked like a shell of himself this season. This is not to say that Harden doesn’t have the ability to get deep in his bag, but more so that Harden doesn’t have the ability to diversify his game at this stage of his career, because he’s become accustomed to a heavy isolation approach.
Not only is Beal four years younger than Harden, he has significantly less wear and tear than Harden.
Harden has ranked at or near the top in minutes for essentially all of his Rockets tenure, as outlined below:
- 2012-13: 6th in minutes per game
- 2013-14: 5th in minutes per game
- 2014-15: 2nd in minutes per game
- 2015-16: 1st in minutes per game
- 2016-17: 6th in minutes per game
- 2018-19: 3nd in minutes per game
- 2019-20: 2nd in minutes per game
- 2020-21: 7th in minutes per game
If you’ll notice, the only year that he wasn’t near the top of the league in minutes was in 2017-18, which was the year that the Houston Rockets went to the Western Conference Finals, and through seven games at that. The postseason workload adds another layer to the physical toll Harden has taken on over the years, as the Rockets have made the playoffs in every season he’s been in Houston, and have made it beyond the first round in all but two postseason trips.
All in all, Harden has finished within the top-five in minutes in five of his seasons with Houston, whereas Beal has only done that twice in his entire career.
Next: No. 2