The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Sunday, Oct. 4, 6:03 p.m.

Harden more than capable of carrying Rockets to playoffs

Though it’s less than a week into the NBA season, I think guard James Harden will do big things for the Houston Rockets.

Harden was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets a couple of days before the season tipped off. The Thunder acquired Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick while the Rockets also got Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward in addition to Harden.

Harden has dropped 37, 45 and 24 points in the first three games for the Rockets, winning two of them.

But besides the scoring, Harden can do it all for the Rockets. He can shoot, pass and defend. He can also get to the rim as well, all of which people should know by now.

Some are saying he can’t be the best option, the go-to guy for a team. People claim he has only played against other teams’ second units.

This just isn’t true. Just because he was the sixth man doesn’t mean he doesn’t guard and can’t go against someone like Dwayne Wade. I’ve seen him guard a team’s best player and carry the Thunder to wins.

Harden was honestly a better fit for Oklahoma City than guard Russel Westbrook. Harden is more comfortable facilitating and probably the better defender.

Nonetheless, Harden is in Houston now and he could put the team back on the map. I’m not saying the Rockets are winning a championship this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them grab at least a No. 8 or No. 7 seed.

Harden and point guard Jeremy Lin should mesh well, and maybe if they make a trade for one more solid scorer the team will do even better.

The question about Harden and this Rockets team is where their big men are. They have a lot of small, inexperienced post players. Omar Asik adds some height but he has yet to solidify himself as a solid center in the league. I do, however, think Asik will have a breakout year.

If these young post players and the bench can play consistently, the Rockets should be all right. They could also decide to make another move and get a big name power forward or center — they have the cap space.

The inexperience could slow them down. Shooting guard Carlos Delfino has the longest tenure in the NBA on the team with seven years. Everyone else on the team has been in the league five years or fewer.

It all comes back to Harden. He’s shown that he can handle being the number one option and the star player. If he can keep this up all season, and maybe get some help, the Houston Rockets could be dangerous this year.

Many don’t think Harden can be the foundation of a team, a true star. But if these first three games are any indication of how the rest of the season will go, Harden is definitely on track.