James Harden and Jeremy Lin Need Another Star for Rockets to Fulfill Potential
Just one more.
Because as promising a start to the NBA season as the Rockets have had, there's still something, someone missing.
But who, or rather where, is the void that needs to be filled?
Certainly not in the backcourt, where both Harden and Lin have performed admirably.
Harden leads the league in scoring with 35.3 points per contest, and he's also pitching in 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists as well. His 52.9 percent shooting is through the roof and he's getting into a groove on defense, grabbing just under two steals a night.
Lin has been no slouch either. He's averaging 15.3 points, 7.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game. His assists-to-turnover ratio stands at 2.2 and he's even taken great strides toward defensive competency, poking his way to 2.7 steals per game thus far.
The combined performances of Houston's two newest and most discernible faces propelled the Rockets to win two out of their first three games and put them in the thick of the obnoxiously early playoff conversation.
But are they even a playoff-caliber team? Or better yet, should Harden and Lin just accept the fact that they may potentially be postseason-bound and leave it at that?
Absolutely not, because this team is better than that—or rather, it has the potential to be better.
It just needs one more piece.
Sure, there are other players who have impressed in Houston thus far.
Omer Asik continues to rebound and block shots at an alarmingly high rate, yet his poor touch around the rim is equally as alarming.
Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson have shown flashes of coming into their own on both ends of the floor, while even Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas have established themselves as vital cogs in Houston's rotation.
But it's not enough. Harden and Lin have changed everything in Houston. But they haven't changed enough.
I by no means intend to downplay the importance and impact Harden and Lin's supporting cast has had so far, but they're just that—a supporting cast. Not prolific dignitaries.
Which is exactly what the Rockets still need; what Harden and Lin still need.
Together, they have made up one of the most formidable backcourt tandems in the league. We've already staked claim in their stat lines, yet their immediate chemistry has been nothing short of brilliant as well.
A fierce backcourt attack will only get Houston so far, though. The team needs someone in the frontcourt to command the type of two-way attention both Harden and Lin now command.
The Rockets need someone else to go to dow the stretch, a third star who can prove to be the difference between a win and an overtime loss like the one Houston suffered at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Yes, piecing together a Big Three has become a cliché in the Association, but that's only because it has worked. Just ask the Miami Heat. Or the Boston Celtics before them. Or the San Antonio Spurs even before them. Hell, Harden himself would authenticate such a notion as well.
Superstar powerhouses have not emerged from the ground, clustered together like daisies for no reason; they yield results.
How far away are the Houston Rockets from title contention?
Does it take depth to make the playoffs, to contend for an NBA title?
Of course, the 2011-12 wafer-thin, prematurely-eliminated Los Angeles Lakers will attest that.
But it also takes star power, multiple sources of star power—a trifecta of star power.
Does Houston have depth?
Arguably, yes. Its depth chart may read like a pamphlet of uncertainty, but the team has enough pieces to the puzzle to, at the very least, feign competency.
Just not contender status.
That's a reality that's still just out of reach—a reality the Rockets are just one abounding, one prolific iota short of actualizing.
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