3 areas the Rockets will improve without James Harden

By Lachard Binkley
Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Christian Wood #35 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

2. Opposing teams won’t be able to focus on just one player

As I mentioned earlier, having the best isolation player in the league is a blessing and a curse. It’s great because your offensive approach is fairly simple: give the ball to Harden and get out of the way.

It’s a curse because opposing defenses know this as well and can force the ball out of Harden’s hands and blow up the offense.

Playing four-on-five on the offensive end with the defense double-teaming Harden, in theory, should be an advantage. The problem is that it takes other players completely out of rhythm, not knowing if they will even touch the ball on the offensive end.

Players like Tucker and David Nwaba, who started with Harden this season, may go several possessions without receiving one pass. This isn’t to disparage Harden, it’s just a fact that a Harden-led offense is not built to get everyone involved.

Again it’s a small sample size, but even before Thursday night, when Harden didn’t play, the Rockets seemed more engaged on both sides of the ball. It’s easier to be engaged in the game on defense when you know you have a chance to score on offense.

Huge 3 from Brown!

Rockets trail 96-99 with 3:52 remaining. pic.twitter.com/K6xtImoy4l

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 15, 2021

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