NBA: How Far Will James Harden Carry the Rockets?

Andrew HermannCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

Duncan Steele
Duncan Steele

Last year, the Houston Rockets fell just short of making the NBA playoffs, missing the cut by a mere two games.

It was the third consecutive year that the team had missed the postseason. Even under a new head coach, it just wasn't meant to be for the Rockets. 

This year seems a little different, and it might have to do with some new faces on the team.

One of the biggest transactions that went down this past offseason happened when "Linsanity" moved to Houston.

Little did Rockets fans know—that would not be the team's biggest move of the offseason. 

Just a few days before the 2012-13 season was about to kick off, James Harden was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets.

It was a blockbuster deal for Houston—acquiring the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

Now in a starting role with Houston, Harden looks to be even more deadly then when he was coming off the bench for Oklahoma.

In his debut with the Rockets, he did not disappoint. Harden scored 37 points, with 12 assists and six boards to go with it. He also signed a five-year, $80 million extension with the team. 

As you could have guessed by now, life for James Harden is pretty good. But how long will this last? How far can James Harden carry this very young Houston team?

As we all well know, Harden can shoot the ball. We saw shades of this while he was with the Thunder and when he scored 37 in his Rockets debut. 

This season, I believe that Harden and the Rockets will make it to the NBA playoffs for the first time in the past four years, and that Harden will carry them through the first round.

I don't think the Rockets have enough talent right now to compete with the top teams in the West, which means that they should be eliminated in the second round of the 2013 playoffs. 

Although it may seem like an early exit from the postseason, simply making the playoffs should help the younger players on the team develop experience for the coming years.

James Harden has already experienced what it's like to play in a Finals game, so with his leadership and all of the young talent on the Rockets' roster, expect to see Houston play in an NBA Finals during at least one of the five years Harden has on his contract.