Houston Rockets superstar James Harden remains the talk of the NBA world. The former MVP, despite reporting to training camp and playing in his first preseason game this week, is still looking to get traded from the Rockets and doesn’t appear to be taking things seriously in Clutch City.
After skipping the start of training camp to party in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Harden showed up at the Rockets’ facility and was his usual dominant self in practice. However, when Harden made his preseason debut against the San Antonio Spurs and was shown on TV, some fans initially didn’t recognize the All-Star guard.
James Harden scored 12 points against the Spurs in 21 minutes of action. His play on the court, though, wasn’t the subject the entire sports world was talking about after the game.
James Harden looks like he’s really overweight
James Harden told Rockets reporters he was with his trainers in Las Vegas and Atlanta when he didn’t show up to training camp on time. Even though there are pictures and videos of the 2018 MVP partying with rapper Lil Baby for his birthday, Harden claims he was training during that time.
However, when Harden was shown on television during his preseason debut, the former Sixth Man of the Year looked like he was overweight. Although the Rockets star has a little bit of time to get into shape before the 2020-21 regular-season starts, it was certainly not a good look for Harden to show up overweight after missing the start of training camp on purpose.
Harden is one of the best scorers in NBA history. He has led the league in scoring the past three seasons and is a nightmare to guard in one-on-one situations. His heavy physique didn’t prevent him from using his elite scoring skills against the Spurs, as Harden showed off his patented step-back jumper on a few occasions.
The Rockets are hopeful that James Harden will remain professional during his trade request and eventually slims down a little. However, there’s no guarantee either of those things will occur.
James Harden may not be a good teammate
James Harden has played with three future Hall of Famers on the Rockets: Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. Neither star was able to mesh with Harden and The Beard did things behind the scenes to make sure he always got his way.
Harden is undoubtedly one of the top scorers in NBA history, but there is a reason he’s never won a title and led the Rockets to the Finals. His style of play isn’t for everyone and has proven to be easy to defend in the playoffs once teams have more time to watch the film and devise strategies to make the lefty uncomfortable.
Part of what makes a player a good teammate is his ability to be unselfish and adapt to the pieces around him. Thus far with the Rockets, James Harden hasn’t done either of those things and his rep is starting to take a hit around the NBA.
NBA personnel aren’t fans of The Beard
While everyone around the NBA knows James Harden is an elite scorer and superstar talent, his personality and style of play could be rubbing other general managers the wrong way. With that being said, contenders who have solid locker rooms may be hesitant to trade for Harden since he’s such a polarizing player.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, teams are tentative to acquire Harden despite his scoring prowess. Some front offices have concerns about how Harden would impact the culture of their franchise.
“Harden is a terrific scorer, but not a champion,” a front office executive said. “He isn’t a two-way player and (he’s) hard to play with. …He is so used to getting his own way, I think there are concerns he can negatively affect a team’s culture.”
Last season for the Rockets, Harden averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game. That is production every team in the NBA would love to get from their best player and leader, but only if the chemistry of the club is positive.
Moving forward, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens with James Harden. The Rockets are hoping he changes his mind about wanting out of Houston, but it doesn’t appear that is going to happen.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.