James Harden is being traded: Which teams do his stats fit with?
Don’t waste your time looking up to the sky, for this Houston Rocket is coming back down for a crash landing.
NBA veteran & Houston Rocket James Harden is perhaps one of the most skillful players we’ve ever seen when it comes to scoring the ball, coming off a season where the shooting guard averaged nearly 35-points per game.
Now those are some impressive stats.
Today, however, it appears this offensive juggernaut is ready to move on from H-town, forcing Rockets’ management to find the former MVP a new NBA home in a trade.
So, given Harden’s impressive career stats, which NBA team is the best fit for this eight-time NBA All-Star?
A history of Harden
James Harden was drafted out of Arizona State University in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC), formally the Seattle Supersonics, with the 3rd overall pick.
Harden joined the fledgling yet impressive nucleus of Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook. There, Harden would embrace the role of 6th man, acting as an offensive gut punch to opposing teams as he would check in off the bench, a strategy that made sure all the young stars of OKC would have their chance to shine.
Once Harden developed to the All-Star level, OKC was forced to trade Harden in 2012 after failing to agree on a contract extension. Harden was moved to the Houston Rockets, viewed by the franchise as a “centerpiece” for the team in which they could build around for years to come.
At Houston, Harden would achieve many accolades, earning the award of league MVP in the 2017-2018 season, a year where he would also take his team to the Western Conference Finals but ultimately losing to the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series.
Fallout in Houston
The franchise tried tinkering with the team’s chemistry and offensive scheming on multiple occasions, bringing in several coaches during Harden’s tenure as well as a variety of elite level-players, including Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook during his Houston stint.
Ultimately, Harden’s shortcomings in Houston became consistent, leaving what fans call “the bearded one” in a spot where he was forced to reassess his career and what his goals are while he’s still in his prime.
It was reported nearly a month ago that James Harden wanted out of Houston, while also being vocal about where he’d like to be traded to:
The Brooklyn Nets.
Harden has aspirations of winning an NBA championship as a lead contributor and sees a possible pairing of himself, Kyrie Irving, and former teammate, Kevin Durant, as the best way to make the dream a reality.
However, possibly waiting for the right trade-package for their disgruntled superstar, Houston has yet to pull the trigger on a trade.
James Harden was absent from the Rockets’ Dec 3rd voluntary workouts, a team-related practice that, while not mandatory, is something that ideally you want your best player to show up to set a tone for the rest of the team.
Harden’s unhappiness in Houston was also made apparent when the All-Star was spotted at a strip club the same week, opting to not wear a face mask in a photo that was made public.
Now, with Harden FINALLY reporting to the team’s mandatory training camp and going through the proper COVID-related protocols, he’s making it easier for the organization to move him before the start of the season by expressing interest in other teams he’d be willing to be moved to:
The Philadelphia 76ers, The Milwaukee Bucks, and the Miami Heat.
While it’s unclear as to what Houston will do with Harden, in terms of what’s the best long-term options and available packages for them, it’s fun to speculate about which team does Harden fit best.
While the Brooklyn Nets may be at the top of Harden’s holiday wishlist, are we positive that it’s his best fit? Harden has averaged over 25-points per game throughout his career, which is a stat that’s only gone up these last four-seasons.
The problem is that his possible running mates, Irving & Durant, both average around the same points per game, meaning the team would be playing a LOT of hot potato, leaving fans unsure of who’s going to give up their touches for the sake of the team.
The 76ers would undoubtedly have to trade their star guard Ben Simmons to Houston if they wanted to snag Harden, pairing him with All-Star Center Joel Embiid. On paper, this works great, as Simmons & Embiid have had multiple seasons to improve their on-court chemistry, but have struggled to make a strong playoff push in the process.
Harden would have to take a chance on the often-injured Embiid and his health, but if Embiid can manage to stay on the court, then their styles of play should match each other quite nicely, especially with veteran NBA coach Doc Rivers at the helm.
The Milwaukee Bucks, home of back-to-back league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak”, is desperate for that missing piece that will take the Bucks over-the-hump and into an NBA Finals.
While Antetokounmpo is lethal in his post and paint scoring, he struggles with shooting the ball, a role carved out perfectly for James Harden, who wouldn’t have to worry about taking any hard fouls in the paint with the threat of the “Greek Freak” looming in the back of defense’s minds.
The Miami Heat are fresh off of a Finals appearance in the NBA bubble, losing to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Heat, who many think “over-achieved” with their playoff push, are ready to come back better than ever, led by All-Star Jimmy Butler along with otherwise a relatively young and inexperienced cast of teammates.
Harden will have to fit into a culture that’s quite used to winning, perhaps playing a role that he’s not quite used to. If he can put his ego aside, this may be a great landing spot for him.
The best landing spot for James Harden, given his stats, desires, as well as the overall best fit for him is. . .
The Brooklyn Nets.
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Don’t overthink it, everyone, for when it comes to the NBA, talent ALWAYS wins out.
It doesn’t matter if the Nets would be with three ball-dominant superstars. NBA super teams have always been able to figure it out at some point. Barring any serious injuries, a team with Durant, Irving, and Harden would be not only lethal offensively, but would most likely be the only team capable of stopping LeBron James from winning his 5th NBA Championship.