Houston Rockets: Should James Harden just stay put at this point?

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Should James Harden simply stay in Houston?

There’s only been a handful of games, but there’s reason for James Harden and the Houston Rockets to try and work this process out.

Harden has already picked up where he left off, starting the season off in MVP form. He’s responded well to first-year head coach Stephen Silas’ gameplan and he’s earning the respect of his teammates after an eventful offseason.

After missing the whole preseason, his debut with the shorthanded Rockets was amazing. Despite the loss, Harden showed he was going to be professional about this whole process, and the return of the rotation gives the Rockets organization room or optimism.

The return of John Wall will now allow coach Silas to gain a better assessment of what he has with his backcourt. Harden has already picked up where he left off. He’s off to another MVP season. Wall was out for two seasons due to injury, but he’s no slouch at all. Wall is a former five-time NBA All Star. I know we’ve seen this story before with Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, but Wall is different. He’ll won’t be as demanding as CP3 and he’ll be far less erratic than Russ. These two could gel and co-exist well enough together to become a threat in the Western Conference.

This core in Houston isn’t too shabby either, it’s arguably in better shape than it was last season. Eric Gordon is instant offense and we know what he brings to this team. He’s been the Rockets third leading scorer for the past three seasons, leading their second team and complimenting Harden nicely. What’s really been encouraging is the play of Christian Wood. The fifth-year pro was beginning to come into his own prior to the stoppage of play in March. He’s averaging career highs early and looks to have chemistry with Harden already.

He’s a really bright spot on this team, and the tandem of him and newcomer DeMarcus Cousins should be more than serviceable down low for the Rockets. Health is a big factor for Cousins, if healthy he’ll be a key piece for the Rockets this season. Houston had a few key pieces return as well. P.J. Tucker is one of the hardest workers in the league, he’s earned that contract extension.

They will miss defensive stopper Robert Covington but Danuel House Jr. has emerged as a solid 3-and-D threat and he’s carved out a starting role with this Houston team. Ben McLemore also returned after a career revival last season and former Belgian League All-Star Jae’Sean Tate is playing valuable minutes.

Coach Stephen Silas appears to be winning the three-time NBA scoring champion over as well. Harden said the first year head coach “did a great job” and was “very confident,” albeit coaching his first game shorthanded. Silas comes in with an offensive mind and a strong coaching pedigree.

The son of former Charlotte Hornets coach Paul Silas, Stephen helped build the Dallas Mavericks‘ record breaking offense last season. Silas has elements of smallball in his gameplan, allowing for more floor spacing. He’s taken on a lot in a short period of time since becoming Houston’s head coach, but he’s responded to adversity very well.

The season opening performance with a critical portion of the team out shows Harden can carry the load. As for the pieces around him, it may be the best core he’s had since the 65-win 2017-18 season. If John Wall is healthy, this offense will be potent. This is the most unselfish point guard Harden’s ever played with, they might have something special. Christian Wood is also someone to keep eye for. Harden really missed not having a center on the floor last year he appears be fond of the former UNLV big.

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He’s deadly on the screen and roll, it’s such a huge part of his game. Along with being one of the top scorers in the league, he’s also one of the best playmakers as well. If the attitude and production are there, Harden can guide this team into the playoffs. This could actually work.