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James Harden: 8 Reasons He Will Start for the Thunder Next Season

Pat MarrujoContributor IJanuary 7, 2017

James Harden: 8 Reasons He Will Start for the Thunder Next Season

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the second half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 2011 in Da
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    James Harden’s performance in the playoffs should give him the opportunity to start in the 2011/2012 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    However, Harden’s season did not start out so smoothly. The first half of his season was plagued with inconsistency, but now the bearded bench player has changed his stars.

    After his team was bounced from the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, Harden is now getting plenty of recognition as one of the league’s rising stars.

    Turning 22 years old next August, Harden is looking to make next season his breakout year.

    He should find himself in the starting lineup next season, and these are the eight reasons why.

8. The Beard

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  An Oklahoma City Thunder fan holds up a sign referring to the beard of James Harden #13 of the Thunder before the Thunder take on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Brian Wilson did it a season ago for the San Francisco Giants, now James Harden is giving everyone a reason to fear the beard.

    Harden has the greatest facial hair in the NBA today. Rumor has it, that the beard is what gives him the power to be so great.

    The beard makes Harden recognizable on and off the court.

7. Harden Might Grow Impatient

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the second half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 2011 in Da
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    If Harden does not finally get the starting role that he deserves, he might start growing impatient with the Thunder.

    He has a lot of potential to be a big time scorer in this league, and he will want his chance sooner than later. This could lead to distracting trade requests and general unhappiness on the team.

    If James Harden is not a starter next season, I would not be surprised if the Thunder move him for a veteran that can help them right away.

    Harden is not that far away from being a star that can carry a team. It would be a shame to see his talents being wasted coming off the pine.

6. An Improved Jump Shot

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    DALLAS - FEBRUARY 12:  James Harden #13 of the Rookie team shoots against the Sophomore team during the first half of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center on February 12, 2010 in Dallas, T
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When Harden came into the league out of Arizona State, he was dubbed as a pure striker that did not much of a jump shot. After his second year in the league, Harden is beginning to change his identity.

    Even though his three point jumper still lacks a little consistency, Harden has developed his mid-range game greatly.

    No longer does he rely solely on points in the paint. His offensive game features a lot more versatility.

    If Harden can continue to develop his jump shot and find a more consistent shot from long range, he will be very tough to stop.

5. He Gets the Ball Away from Westbrook

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 25, 201
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The overwhelming criticism of the Thunder during the postseason has been directed toward Russell Westbrook.

    Fans are outraged at Westbrook’s inability to make plays for others and the lack of passing the young point guard does.

    When Harden is on the floor, it gives the Thunder another player that can make plays in place of Westbrook. Neither of the two players are suited to be starting point guards, but they compliment each other very well.

    I would not want Russell Westbrook handling my offense the entire game. Using Harden and Westbrook to run the show as a combination however, could be much more effective.

4. Ability to Make Own Shot

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the first half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 2011 in Dall
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Thabo Sefolosha is a fine NBA player. He plays exceptional defense, but rarely supplies much of an offensive spark.

    James Harden on the other hand is a big offensive threat that can even create his own scoring chances. He does this using his size, strength and good ball handling skills.

    With Harden in the starting lineup, the Thunder will have three players (Durant, Westbrook and Harden) who can create their own shots.

3. He Takes Smart Shots

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    James Harden is not the type of player that settles for jump shots. He would much rather dribble and drive for a high percentage look.

    That is a valuable trait to have because the other Thunder stars are notorious for not doing this. Throughout the playoffs Kevin Durant was settling for three point jumpers and Westbrook settled for pull-ups rather than taking it to the rim.

    They need someone like Harden playing that works for his buckets.

    During the postseason, Harden shot 47.5 percent from the field.

2. His Passing Ability

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 09:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 9, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.The
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Most people would agree that James Harden is the best passer on the Thunder.

    Not only are his passes on target, but he also has exceptional timing. He knows exactly when to pass and how to get it there.

    Point guard Russell Westbrook’s greatest weakness could be his passing ability, so the Thunder need Harden.

    He gives them a player whom they can run the offense through. His good decision-making and vision are valuable assets to his team.

1. He Is the Third Best Player on the Team

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 19:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talks with Kevin Durant #35 in the first half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Most great teams in the league have three guys that carry their team.

    In Miami it is James, Wade and Bosh, and in Oklahoma City it has to be Durant, Westbrook and Harden. They are the three players that the team relies on down the stretch.

    Once Jeff Green was traded to Boston, Harden was forced to step up into this role and he has stepped up.

    If the Thunder want to take the next step, they will need their big three to develop. For this to happen, James Harden has to finally get his shot in the starting lineup.

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