The Houston Rockets are sitting comfortably near the top of the Western Conference after an 8-game winning streak. As of now, the team modifications that took place over the summer seem to be working as the players are figuring out how they work best together, in real time, on the court during games. The impact that Russell Westbrook has had on the Rockets squad is undeniable. His energy and pace has created another method with which the Rockets can operate successfully in.
Now it is time for a healthy dose of controversy and what some may consider an unpopular opinion. James Harden is really great at what he does and should be recognized as such right now. Instead of hearing chatter about how he’s averaging nearly 40 points a game, there is this weird caveat that he cannot be successful until he gets a ring. It’s simply not true. While a ring may be the ultimate goal, his journey towards that goal has been incredible. Westbrook alluded to the cavalier attitude with which Harden is discussed saying, “I think that a lot of people like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again, but it’s not normal because there’s nobody else that can do it. If it was normal, everybody would do it.”
Harden’s primary concern is winning games so he does whatever he needs to do to win them. When questioned about the statistical aspect of his game and comparisons with other players, he quickly shut it down saying, “I don’t care about that. I just want to win games. Tonight, just shooting my shots. [In win against Portland Trailblazers] Last game, I took 41 shots, but we had six guys on the injured reserve list. So it’s whatever it takes to win at this point. That’s what I go out there and do every single night.”
What he’s accomplishing shouldn’t be overlooked and the Coach of the Rockets, Mike D’Antoni, recognizes what he’s seeing. “I know I’ve said he’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen,” D’Antoni explained. “Well, he is. I haven’t coached everybody, but he’s so good at what he does. You might like it, you might not like it — I don’t know how you don’t like it. I don’t think we’ve ever seen it like this.”