James Harden’s LA Clippers debut was an expected dud full of growing pains

LA Clippers James Harden (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Clippers James Harden (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports) /

James Harden’s debut with the LA Clippers was very much a dud. 

Four months after initially demanding a trade, James Harden finally made his debut with the LA Clippers Monday night against the New York Knicks. While there was a lot of hope heading into the game, Harden’s debut ended up being somewhat of a dud as the Clippers fell to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Clippers are now 3-3 on the season but with Harden now on the roster, there is much optimism surrounding this team. And that was the message after the Clippers fell to the Knicks in Harden’s debut.

Harden finished with 17 points, six assists, and three rebounds on 6-9 shooting from the field in 31 minutes of action. In the end, it was a poor fourth quarter overall from the team that doomed the Clippers. LA lost the frame by 14 points.

But that’s not all that surprising. When the Clippers needed to bear down the most on the offensive end of the floor, there was a lot of figuring out. The fourth quarter of a regular season game isn’t the most ideal of situations for that to occur.

But with no training camp and not much practice, this is the reality for Harden and the Clippers.

If they’re going to be able to figure it out and properly mesh at some point this season, it’s going to have to happen on the fly. But a trio of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Harden should be able to find a way to make it all work.

For each of these players individually and the Clippers as a whole, it’s championship or bust. The fact of the situation is known. The veteran-laden Clippers understand that. These early struggles should not be surprising.

Harden’s debut was exactly what should’ve been expected. Harden was a new player trying to find his way on a team that had already found theirs. There’s going to be growing pains and Harden’s debut was just the beginning.

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But the growing pains and early awkward performances are well worth it. If the Clippers are going to reach a higher ceiling level, they’re going to have to completely buy into one another. This is all part of the process. The Clippers will eventually click with Harden. Kawhi and PG are too good of players to not envision this all working.