After a rough start to the season left the Houston Rockets scrambling for answers, they found their recipe for success in the historic isolation play of guard James Harden.
Harden has been on a tear through the first half of the season, and a lot of his production has come from creating for himself. Still, the Rockets are managing to keep pace in an impossible Western Conference, even with a plethora of impactful injuries.
Though Harden has been nothing short of spectacular, he isn’t the biggest fan of the play-style he’s been forced to adapt to this season, according to a conversation he had with Warriors superstar Stephen Curry. Curry discussed Harden and his play with Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer during All-Star Weekend.
"It's fun but I want to play different…."
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 16, 2019
Even though the Rockets and James Harden have adjusted well to a different roster and their slew of injuries, the only reason Houston is playing this way is out of necessity. Yes, Harden is a ball-dominant, elite isolation scorer, but with backcourt mate Chris Paul healthy and a full complement of shooters, this Rockets team has proven to be a well-rounded offensive force as opposed to the one-man show it is now.
However, Paul hasn’t been able to remain on the court this season, as he is just recently returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for over a month. This has resulted in Harden’s absurdly high usage and while it remains effective for now, this dependency could seriously hinder the Rockets come playoff time.
A consistent knock on Harden’s undeniable greatness has been his tendency to wither when the stage becomes the brightest in the postseason. Even with some of the most eye-popping regular season numbers the NBA world has ever seen, Harden and the Rockets could be going down that same path unless something changes ahead of the playoffs.