James Harden: New Rockets SG Earns His Big Paycheck with Huge Debut Performance

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIOctober 31, 2012

October 31, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince (22) shoots the ball on Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the fourth quarter at The Palace. Houston won 105-96. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Many people wondered if James Harden was worth the maximum contract he was given by the Houston Rockets after choosing to turn down less money to remain in Oklahoma City in a supporting role.

On Saturday, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets after turning down an offer from his former team. He signed a six-year, $80 million deal on Wednesday, just hours before the team’s opener in Detroit Wednesday night.

No more Sixth Man of the Year for Harden, who tallied 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and four steals to help guide his new team to an opening day road win against the Detroit Pistons.

There just might be bigger honors in store for the newest Houston Rocket if he can keep playing at the high level he exhibited against the Pistons.

Detroit may not be a Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder caliber team, but Harden made a huge statement in his debut to everyone who doubted him since being dealt over the weekend.

Is he a No. 1 guy? Was he worth the max contract? How would he fare as a starter and center-piece of a franchise?

Let his play be the judge. So far, it’s speaking louder than any words could.

With his team down 11 points and 10:41 remaining to play in the fourth quarter, Harden knocked down a three-pointer that shot life into his teammates. They’d go on to a 30-13 run to win the game 105-96, pulling off an exciting late-game comeback.

While he played well throughout the entire game, Harden’s six points, five assists and three steals in the fourth quarter were a huge spark that ignited the sleeping Rockets to this win.

The scary thing is that his performance came just four days after being traded from his team. He practiced just twice with his teammates before given the starting the nod Wednesday night.

If he can blow up like this, with barely any familiarity with his teammates, there’s no telling what’s possible after given a chance to practice and gel with them.

Only one thing is certain after his first performance—Harden was definitely worth price of admission for the Houston Rockets.