James Harden has brought his beard and talents to Houston, but are the Rockets for real?
The Rockets have had a few rough years with no big name players, and have struggled to find their identity.
They may have found it this season, complete with a ridiculous beard.
James Harden has had an instant impact for Houston and has taken them from pretender to contender.
Harden is averaging over 35 points per game in this young NBA season
James Harden has been a big time scorer since his college days at Arizona State. Harden averaged over 12 points per game in his last two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is impressive considering he came off the bench and, when he did play, had to share the court with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder have very good offensive players who demand the ball. The Rockets, on the other hand, do not.
Kevin Martin was the main scorer for the Rockets over the past three seasons, but he was never the big time player who could drop 40 on any given night. When Martin was traded to Oklahoma City as part of the Harden deal, the Rockets lost a second scoring threat, having already amnestied Luis Scola in the offseason.
James Harden will help the Rocket fans forget all about the missing players. Harden is averaging 35.3 points per game through three contests this season. Harden has already proven his big time scoring ability, including a 45 point performance in a win against the Atlanta Hawks last Friday night.
Harden is the scorer that the Rockets need to take them to the next level and make some noise in the Western Conference.
Harden was the sixth man for the Thunder and a huge part of OKC's run at the title
Another reason that Harden has already made the Rockets a contender is his experience. As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden has played in the postseason for the last three seasons.
Having advanced to the Western Conference finals in each of the previous two seasons and taking the Miami Heat to a Game 5 in last years NBA Finals, Harden has a lot of playoff experience. On top of that, Harden has performed well in the postseason. Last season with the Thunder, Harden averaged over 16 points per game in the postseason.
The Rockets didn't have many players with postseason experience on their roster until the arrival of Harden, a factor that may be very important if they can make it into the playoffs this season.
The Rockets traded away their leaders on the court. Harden has the skill set to take over.
With the departure of Scola and Martin, the Rockets were left without a leader. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are good players, but they don't have the experience to lead an NBA franchise. Luckily for them and the Rockets, Harden came along.
Harden has played third fiddle for the Thunder since he came into the league. He was always the sixth man who's job was to provide a spark off the bench.
Harden has the talent to be a leader but has never had the chance. Until now.
James is exactly what the Rockets need this season. They have a group of very talented young role players. Adding Harden into the mix as their leader makes the Rockets a very dangerous team this season.
Harden is a popular player with NBA fans, something the Rockets don't have besides Jeremy Lin
Since Yao Ming's departure, the Houston Rockets haven't exactly experienced a media frenzy. They haven't had any players who have demanded the attention of the entire country. Honestly, who wants a Chandler Parsons jersey?
That's all changed.
James Harden is a totally different story. Even though Harden played behind Durant and Westbrook in OKC, he was still a very popular player. Thunder fans would show up with fake beards and jerseys bearing Harden's number 13.
Harden is a fiery, enthusiastic player that can bring a big market feel to a lowly Houston team, which can do a lot for the Rockets' momentum and morale.
Mike Brown and the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled so far this season
Harden's Rockets have started off 2-1 this season. That's better than some of the Western Conference's best teams can say.
With some of the best teams having a hard time this season, Harden and the Rockets will have a great opportunity to make some noise in a very strong conference.