Just like that, everything’s different. Daryl Morey had stayed prepared, but last weekend’s stunning trade for James Harden proved the importance of luck in the NBA. You can make smart moves, but without some bit of luck, you’re going nowhere.
The week before had seen, not just the discussion following the trade, but the emphatic justification of the contract: after signing an extension worth $80million, Harden went on to average 41 points per game in his first two outings with the Rockets. Tickers blared in alerting that Harden’s 82 points to start the season were a total matched only by Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, basketball’s two most unrealistic figures. (When those two guys are the list, it’s basically like saying “you’re imagining the whole thing….it really didn’t even happen.”)
Last night, I observed that the game against Atlanta was one we should have lost. Tonight, this was a game we should have won. However, the Rockets came undone less to the mistakes of youth and instead more to sheer fatigue.
If there had been anything to worry about James Harden’s performance for the last few games, it was the amount of minutes that he logged. 44 and 40 minutes respectively is not even remotely sustainable, and for that to occur on the first game of a back to back just meant that it was probable that he would come back to earth on the second game.
The Rockets have the assets and the flexibility to add one more big-name player. Almost unanimously, Aldridge has been at the top of every diehard’s wish list for the next acquisition. I asked LaMarcus how he felt about Harden and if he could see himself fitting in.
Earlier today I recorded a podcast previewing tonight’s Rockets/Trail Blazers game with fellow TrueHoop writer Sean Highkin of Portland Roundball Society. Click the link above to give it a listen. We discussed why the likes of Royce White, Donatas Motiejunas, and Terrence Jones aren’t playing; whether James Harden’s success is sustainable; all things Omer Asik; and much, much more.
Yesterday I wrote that there’s no better time to be a Rockets fan than right now, and if tonight’s game plays out exactly like I think it will (fast, exciting, millions of points scored by both teams), this one qualifies as a must watch.