Can James Harden and Jeremy Lin Lead Houston Rockets to NBA Playoffs?

Zachary Arthur@Zach_ArthurSLCCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2012

The addition of James Harden and Jeremy Lin has the Houston Rockets thinking of one thing: making the playoffs

The question is if those two can lead them there.

Houston had backcourt issues last season as Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin struggled to play with much consistency. It seemed as though one night Lowry would go off, only to be silent for the next three games. That trend continued with all of their guards.

Those three players are now on new teams, and the Rockets are attacking the season with two young guards that are ready to prove that their past success was no fluke.

Harden and Lin will lead the Houston Rockets to the NBA playoffs, but why?

Let's take a look at a couple reasons.


James Harden

The Houston Rockets acquired the missing piece of the puzzle.

Somebody with a beard.

Okay, clearly the beard isn't what makes Harden such a great player, but there has to be something to it right?

Much of what makes Harden great is not visible to the naked eye. You have to look underneath the surface to find what truly makes him special.

The man known as "The Beard" has made his NBA living as the third-best man on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Normally, the third best player is starting the game next to the two best, but Harden has played nearly all of his games as the sixth man.

It takes both confidence and pride to be able to do that over a long period of time, and he has done nothing but thrive in that role.

To put it into perspective, Harden played in 220 games during his time with the Thunder.

He started in only seven.

Houston got a player that understood the idea of waiting your turn—something that four-year-olds are beginning to understand, but is mostly a foreign concept to most professional athletes.

Still though, none of his attitude would matter if the man wasn't a ridiculous basketball player.

He plays the game and does it very well.

Last year was clearly his breakout year as he averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Shooting 49 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range also doesn't hurt.

Harden culminated his season with a gold medal for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics.

To say that he is on a roll would be an understatement. He's riding a wave of success that he is now carrying with him in Houston.

The Rockets are currently using Harden and Lin as dual-option point guards, meaning that either of them can assume the point in any given possession. There are clearly certain sets that have them at an assigned position, but the majority of the game is spent with either player running the point.

This play's into Harden's unique playing style perfectly.

There were times where the Thunder used him at the point when Russell Westbrook played like, well, Russell Westbrook and struggled. It wasn't unusual to see Harden outplay Westbrook and get the team back into a rhythm.

Of course that's only an example of one of the many different skills that he brings to a team, but it shows his versatility.

Houston will need players to come through with big plays down the stretch of the season, and Harden is a pretty good one to rely on.


Jeremy Lin

Harden is close to a lock for helping Houston get to the playoffs this year, but Lin is more of a wild card.

Sure, he's a talented guard that entertains every arena he's playing in, but is that really enough?

Fortunately, for the Rockets, it's plenty enough right now.

Lin doesn't have to be the go-to option for Houston.

That's what Harden's for.

Being the leader of the supporting cast is much more of a fitting role for Lin at this point of his career.

Ethan Grant, featured columnist for Bleacher Report, wrote an article on how Jeremy Lin is the perfect "sidekick" for Harden. Grant explains that being the No. 2 option is ideal for Lin:

Better yet, Harden is a playmaker at heart. He doesn't have to be in an isolation set to score points. His ability to finish at the rim while also distributing to teammates is a quality that he and Lin share.

He and Lin also share in doing what's best for this Rockets team. Right now, Harden is logging heavy minutes; he is the main source of offense for a team that probably didn't expect to be 2-1.

His role as the No. 1 guy is giving the Rockets the best chance to win.

When Lin is called upon to take over that role, he'll be ready. This timeshare of stardom in the backcourt has given Kevin McHale options on a nightly basis. If Harden is struggling, Lin is the next choice to help pick up the slack.

Having Lin next to Harden creates one of the scariest backcourts in the league, and one that people certainly don't want to play against in crunch time.

That alone puts Houston in a great position to get to the playoffs.


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