Sunday, October 28, 2012

James Harden Traded to Rockets

Wow.

So last night the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder traded Sixth Man of the Year, and fan favorite James Harden to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb and draft picks.  Rumor has it that this all escalated VERY quickly after Harden turned down a 4 year $52-53 mil offer, because Harden wanted a 5 year max deal.

While we can spend days discussing why this deal was good or bad for either side, lets focus on how this affects Harden's Fantasy Basketball value.

Last season, Harden averaged a career high 10 shots per game and nearly 5 of them were 3s.  That was just about 12% of the Thunders shots, as he had to give way to Superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who each took 20 shots per game.  Harden was also averaging nearly 4 assists per game last season off the bench as he displayed his excellent court vision and had the luxury of Durant and Westbrook finishing plays he set up.

Playing for a NEW look Houston Rockets, that features Jeremy Lin in the backcourt, Harden will now be asked to shoulder the scoring load, or at least it would appear this way.  Jeremy Lin's ability to drive to the hoop, as witnessed during "Linsanity" last season in New York, usually led to a dump off to a big standing right under the basket, and not so much with the kick out pass to the perimeter, which is a negative for Harden.  Also, as seen in New York last year, Jeremy Lin is not the best at getting a player the ball when/where they want it, a la Carmelo Anthony.  James Harden is going to have to work a LOT harder to get the same looks he was getting in OKC and will be forcing shots which will lead to more points per game, but his FG%(49%) and 3pt%(39%) are going to suffer, as both were career highs last season.

The Rockets are loaded with tons of POTENTIAL talent in players like Lin, Chandler Parsons, Royce White, Terrence Jones, Marcus Morris, Patrick Paterson, Donatas Montiejunas.  Houston was also a top 10 scoring offense last season and if they can keep up the tempo, with Lin and Harden in the backcourt pushing the ball, they can rack up the points in bunches.  Fantasy owners will still love having James Harden on their team, but James Harden is going to miss playing basketball in front of those fervorous Thunder fans, in meaningful April Regular Season games, Playoff games, Conference Championship games and the NBA Finals.  Whether or not being the face(beard) of a franchise, getting a max deal (8 mil over 4 years), and making a name for himself instead of being the 3rd wheel is best for your career is yet to be to determined.


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