The Rockets Daily – February 5, 2014

James Harden: NBA Superstar – With a unique, attacking game, a brief but stellar career on two of the most exciting teams in the league, and hands down the best look since Dr. J’s ‘fro, it’s no surprise James Harden is one of the top young stars in the Association.  And add his growing collection of charming and funny commercials to his already stellar highlight reel and that star in only going to grow.  The latest ad featuring The Beard, by Foot Locker, also stars another iconic look: The Brow.

  

While on-set for this shoot, Harden spoke with ESPN True Hoop’s Henry Abbott from the barber’s chair.  They covered an array of subjects including his Thunder days, his game, to the recruiting of Dwight Howard this summer.

You have this incredible array of ways you score. Jabs, step-backs, Euro-steps, floaters, hesitations … how does that evolve? Does it come from the offseason? Does it come from watching film? Do you steal from other players? Do you have a personal coach who helps you with that? Is it Rockets staff, do they help you develop it?

All of the above. I do a lot of work in the summertime. I have coaches helping me out with the Rockets. I watch a lot of film and see how defenders are guarding me. Even during the season, every single day I’m constantly working on something in my game. I’m still new to this whole “star player” thing, so I have to be on point at all times. Just me working every single day is going to help me out.

One thing that always concerned me about Harden was that he didn’t have an NBA body that stood out.  He’s athletic enough and coordinated to the nth degree, but he lacks that defining characteristic: Paul George’s length, Russell Westbrook’s explosiveness or Dwight’s total package.  But one way to counteract that is to have so many weapons at his disposal that he doesn’t need all those physical gifts.  Paul Pierce and Andre Miller have had fine careers with that kind of game.

Having the weight of an entire organization on your shoulders like Harden had last year can be a rude awakening for any player, especially one that “grew up” playing under Durant and Westbrook.  A lot of players fold under that kind of pressure, but the Rockets are lucky that they landed one that understands what it takes to be The Guy.  I’m certainly not the first to say, but should Harden continue that every day routine his game should age like a fine wine, freakish athleticism or not.

Just In Time For The Deadline – Omer Asik is getting closer to returning to the Rockets lineup.

As the Rockets hit the two-month mark without Omer Asik, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he has “kind of” been given notice that Asik might be cleared within seven to 10 days. Asik began on court active rehab last week, usually a sign that a player is seven to 10 days from practicing.

That seems about right.  With the deadline just two weeks away, I would venture a guess that he makes it back sooner rather than later.  Omer and his agent, Arn Tellem, have played this perfectly, if not predictably.  I certainly have no inside information that Asik and his agent have been posturing, but anyone who has followed the NBA (or any other league for that matter) can see the telltale signs of an unhappy athlete maneuvering his way out of town.  Asik should make it back just days before the All-Star weekend, with three games in five nights leading up to the break being just enough time to showcase his talent one more time, prove the knee is healthy, and find a ticket out of town.

And that doesn’t mean the Rockets have to abide; I’m sure Daryl Morey won’t be bullied into anything.  But Asik has made his intentions quite clear between the multiple trade requests, refusing to suit-up for games after being moved out of the starting lineup, and now taking what seems like an extraordinarily long time to recover from a bruise.  This whole situation has been all too disappointing for a guy that plays so selflessly, doing all the dirty work, and until this unhappiest-of-seasons had never missed a day of work in his NBA career.

And maybe I’m all wrong; maybe all those “signs” I’m seeing are just coincidence.  But these next two weeks will tell us all we need to know about Omer Asik.

Selfie level 11 achieved – This guy wins.  Here’s to the greatest Facebook photo of all-time.

 

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