How do you build a team around James Harden?

Most of you all now would agree that, aside from the hope of a first-round upset to help serve in making Houston seem a somewhat palatable destination for Kevin Durant, this season, for all intents and purposes, is over.  The micro-level discussions from last year regarding strategy and opponents have given way to the macro debates of seasons past over team building.  Discussions which we thought we had left safely in the rearview mirror.

With the Warriors’ historic levels of success, and the Spurs nipping at their heels as the presumed runner-up, the ingrained assumption has become that only an imitation of their styles could hope to pose a challenge.  In essence, unless you play small and share the ball, you don’t have a chance.

The reality of such conventional wisdom is problematic for a team like Houston who features a traditional, relatively unskilled big man, and more importantly, a 90’s era ball dominant superstar whose value is diminished when operating without the ball.  Does this mean James Harden must adjust?  Does this mean a James Harden-led team cannot win?

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in musings

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Courtesy of Deadspin.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than this video is worth a lot more than that. Because it sums up not only this horrible monstrosity of a game, but the horrible monstrosity of this season. When Red94 gets around to writing a “what the **** went wrong” article at the end of this season, this video should be at the top.

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in game coverage

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We were supposed to be like 40-10 right now with posts littered all over this space about the adjustments/tweaks needed to contend with the Warriors and Spurs, to whom we would be looking up at in the standings.  Actually, when I think about it, I’m disgusted in myself for the level of unintentional ungratefulness I’d have exhibited in this alternate  universe.  In reality, we just straight suck, 27-25, 5-5 in our last 10, with all of our team meetings, and empty quotes about focus used up.  This, in a world where the antiquated Memphis Grizzlies have somehow managed to climb to 10 games above .500.

I was never going to discuss Kevin Durant because that’s kind of a stretch now, isn’t it?  In my day, the SAT was the tell-all standardized test, and if a kid got like an 1100 (out of 1600), you weren’t exactly ushering him into the counselor’s office every week to discuss crafting a Harvard application.  But the headline is in the news, so let’s do this, I guess.

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in essays

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This was a good win, but not necessarily a pretty one.

The Suns, even as much as they have collapsed, have the pieces to make things tough for the Rockets. P.J. Tucker is the closest I have ever seen to a “Harden stopper” as James Harden struggles almost every time playing him. Tyson Chandler and Alex Len are  big bodies who can push Capela around and annoy Dwight Howard. And Markieff Morris is a skilled power forward who can give this new Houston small lineup fits.

True, Morris did not have a great game tonight, but Harden and Howard struggled a lot tonight and the Rockets came out with the same lethargic defense that has plagued them for much of the season. It culminated in Coach Bickerstaff yanking all five players off the floor and throwing a new group out midway through the first, but that did not turn things around instantaneously. And against a better team, that slow start may have proven fatal.

But it was still just the Suns. And this time, the supporting cast helped turn things around, moved the ball, and had some big plays down the stretch to win a game the Rockets should have won. And Houston has blown those games far too many times this season.

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in game coverage

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The Houston Rockets were all smiles after winning a good game over a good team. James Harden was reclining with is friends and being playful in interviews. It’s something they should try more often. Despite some embarrassing fast breaks and some ugly breakdowns at the rim in the first half, the Rockets turned in one of their best outings of the season, using a combination of effort, talent, and team play to sail past the Miami HEAT. Perhaps they’d forgotten it could be this way. Perhaps the 5-in-7 week they just escaped from had gotten them down. Perhaps life truly is just a series of arbitrary events as we hurtle through space from nothing to nothing. Whatever the cause, they had reason to be happy, and that’s a nice change of pace.

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in game coverage

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