The Houston Rockets will play the role of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2016-17 NBA season. All-Star guard, James Harden will finally know what it’s like to be Kobe Bryant.
For all the success the Lakers have had during Kobe’s tenure, one thing was for certain. It was his team. He had to carry the load, the blame and the pressure of being that IT guy. Much of Harden’s tenure with the Rockets has been him and Dwight Howard, but with Howard gone, it’s all on Harden.
Can he handle this type of responsibility? The Rockets self-destructed last season but were able to sneak into the playoffs with a 41-41 record. While some of that blame can be placed on his shoulders, it was a total team collapse.
Looking over their roster for this term should give any Rockets fan the jitters. Besides Harden the next player to offer solid contributions will be Trevor Ariza. I’ve always been a fan of Ariza’s game but not for a second scoring option. The Rockets picked up Nene this offseason but he has not been the same player he was once he left Denver in 2011. They also picked up free agent SG, Eric Gordon and for a large sum, he will become one of the highest paid bench players in the NBA.
With Howard gone the paint will be anchored by Clint Capella and his averages of seven points and six rebounds. The PG position is still manned by Patrick Beverly who cannot seem to stay on the floor long enough to be a factor as to why they will miss or make the playoffs. If the Rockets are to succeed this season it will fall on the shoulders of Harden, much like it did Kobe. Harden averaged 29 points last season, and while it may be wrong to ask more of him, that’s what it will take.
He has never felt this type of pressure before and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. Per rumors that he and Howard didn’t get along and may be the main reason the Center left, he must let everyone know, by his play why this was the best decision.
The difference between he and Kobe is that while Kobe and Shaw had their problem they did manage to win three NBA Championship together. Howard and Harden never made it to a Finals and while he may like the pressure, he has also failed when he did have the proper team and coach around him.
Everyone wants to be the next Jordan or Kobe but tend to forget the pressure and responsibilities that come with this comparisons. Harden is about to find out what type of leader he is.