The NBA, now a guard-heavy league, is full of some impressive backcourts. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. So far this year, however, Jeremy Lin and James Harden have overshadowed them all.
Maybe it's the horde of cameras following Lin around or the huge shade created from Harden's beard, but what Harden and Lin have going on in Houston is something that few teams have.
They've gone beyond being one of the best backcourts in the NBA—they're looking like they're one of the most dynamic duos the league has to offer.
They might not be on the level of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul and Blake Griffin yet, but they're ready to hang out in the company of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire or Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
Look at what these two have combined for over the course of three days. Throw James Harden's 35 points, six rebounds and six assists into a bucket with Jeremy Lin's 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists and you pull out a two-headed monster averaging nearly 51 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds. Not to mention four steals and some pace-pushing offense that's bone-shatteringly exciting.
For a comparison, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are averaging a combined 42 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds between the two of them through three games.
Even if it is for just a three-game stretch, being mentioned in the same breath as LeBron and Wade is never a bad thing.
Harden and Lin have got a combined PER of 50.82, the two of them work together to assist on over 60 percent of the team's shots and are running an offense that's making Omer Asik look like he's an effective offensive player.
What makes Harden and Lin so perfect for each other is that their similar skill sets are actually complementary in the fast-paced offense that they're running. They both have the tools necessary to run that kind of offense. They're fast, they can handle the ball, pass, penetrate, shoot and make good decisions. When you've got two guys like that playing together, it's almost impossible for an offense to continually founder.
A big part of this stardom is how much we took Harden for granted with the Thunder. He would come in for 30 minutes a game, run the offense and get to the rim every once in a while. We would laugh at his beard, he would go back to the bench and we'd go back to cheering on Kevin Durant.
When the fast break doesn't work, they've got a team capable of running the pick-and-roll to perfection, even if it's obvious that it's coming from a mile away.
Asik is capable of setting the best screens in the NBA, allowing either guard enough space to turn the corner and get to the rim. If the defense collapses the other guy will be hanging out on the wing ready to take an open shot or send the ball around the perimeter to Chandler Parsons or Carlos Delfino.
What's amazing about the chemistry that these two already have is that they were on the same team for exactly three days before they had to step on the floor together and lead this team into the future.
They're 2-1, so obviously they aren't without their problems. But for Portland to beat them, it had to drag them into overtime and dominate in the extra period.
However, when it got down or gave up leads against Detroit and Atlanta, Harden and Lin were the ones that threw it back into the game. Their fast pace really takes its toll on other teams' defenses, and it seems like it wears on everyone, because they're not just forced to chase their own guy around the floor, but also to watch out for a little guard flying to the rim for an easy bucket.
It might be too early to call this tandem the best backcourt in the NBA, but if their play continues at such a high level, they won't be too far off.