NBA

Kobe Bryant Knew All Along That James Harden Wouldn’t Win an NBA Title

The last few weeks have seen the Houston Rockets continue to fall apart and experience much internal change. The bulk of the focus has shifted over to star guard James Harden‘s future with the franchise. Before all of this unfolded, Kobe Bryant may have correctly predicted Harden’s fate in Houston.

Rockets’ dysfunction beginning to brew

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The last several days have seen the Houston Rockets fall apart at the seams with their internal issues.

Houston has quickly moved into a new direction with head coach Mike D’Antonio departed and general manager Daryl Morey stepping down. These moves have led the team down the path toward their issues, becoming more publicly prominent.

Their two former league MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook are questioning the direction of the franchise. Meanwhile, the latter has requested a trade this offseason that could lead to another seismic shift.

The organization’s problems go beyond that as veteran forward PJ Tucker has voiced to the team that he feels disrespected due to the lack of a contract extension. The Rockets have turned into a dysfunctional franchise that has fallen into the same pit holes that have prevented them from taking that next step toward an NBA title.

These issues are something that the late great Kobe Bryant had keenly pointed out last year.

Kobe Bryant pinpointed the Rockets’ problems with James Harden

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Since arriving to the Houston Rockets, James Harden has been the offensive game plan’s focal point.

Harden has firmly settled into his dominant role as the primary scorer and playmaker over the last few seasons. That playing style helped him earn an MVP award and lead the league with a career-high 37.1 points per game. However, his approach is something that Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant voiced last year on ESPN’s “The Jump” wasn’t going to help lead the Rockets to an NBA title.

“I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships, I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” Bryant said. “But at the same time you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing that.” 

When asked by Rachael Nichols about whether that style will win a championship, Bryant was quite skeptical. He felt that this approach lacks ball movement, allowing for opposing teams to hone in, especially in the playoffs.

Bryant’s comments hold a lot of weight, given his knowledge of the game and championship experience. The Hall of Famer also had a strong reputation for being a ball-dominant guard, which provides his perspective on Harden’s playing style has much more meaning and understanding.

There is a tremendous level of respect for what the Rockets star guard has accomplished, but it’s an approach that Bryant correctly foresaw not leading to championships.

Houston needs a hard restart

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The writing is on the wall that the Rockets need a jumpstart to push the franchise in the right direction.

Moving on from Russell Westbrook will be a start as it will get his massive remaining contract off the books. James Harden is reportedly committed to the team, but there needs to be a dramatic shift with the roster around him.

Houston attempted to push things forward over the years by bringing in a few stars to pair with him, such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Westbrook, but none of them worked well enough. It speaks to the former league MVP needing to look in the mirror to better adjust his game to get the most out of his extraordinary talent.

Meanwhile, the front office needs to aggressively build a team around Harden that can provide more offensive production and depth. There is much work to be done in Houston, and it will need to start this offseason.