The squad of young turks, helmed by erstwhile overnight sensation Jeremy Lin, were all still learning the game at the NBA level. As a result, they looked destined for a lottery pick. A .500 season was perhaps a pipe dream, but it was the best anybody was hoping for.
The Bearded One has drastically altered those projections.
Lin told the Houston Chronicle, “[Harden]’s our leader. He’s our best player. We feed off him…if you look at our season as a whole, we’ve surpassed a lot of people’s expectations, and he’s a big part of it."
Watching him sometimes reminds me of the bus in the movie Speed: compelled to go faster than 50 MPH, sometimes careening out of control, but heart-poundingly thrilling to watch and root for.
Harden's energy and enthusiasm have imbued the Rockets and the city of Houston with a spirit of fun and excitement not seen since a healthy Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady were wearing the red and white. In addition, Harden's impressive melange of skills have transformed the Rockets into serious, even likely, playoff contenders.