The NBA Dribbled Out

James Harden dropped a career-high 45 points while shooting a Dirk-ian 14/19 from the field, 15/17 from the free throw line and 2/4 from 3. He also had 7 rebounds and 2 assists. I think most Rockets fans will excuse his 5 turnovers. His career night came just a day after dropping 37 points and handing out 12 assists in his Rockets debut. Right now, there aren’t many players I’d take before James Harden, and I’m pretty sure he’s the best 2-guard in the game (right now that is). Sure, not every team has even played (miss you Brooklyn, but I can’t get across the East River!), but through just 2 games, he’s been putting up absurd numbers, and when you watch him with the Rockets, you realize he’s expending less of an effort than you’d guess to get those points. 

Last night also saw Jeremy Lin with had a career-high for the Rockets as well. He fits better with Harden than expected. Augmenting Lin’s 20 points were a career high 10 rebounds to go with 7 assists and just 3 turnovers. Omer Asik, the Chicago benchwarmer Morey signed to a 3 year $30 million poison-pilled contract this off-season, grabbed 19 rebounds, 9 offensive, as the Rockets dominated the glass; especially important for the Rockets last night, were the offensive rebounds because they turned the ball over 21 times. 

On top of Harden, Lin and Asik’s big night, was reserve forward, Marcus Morris, with a career-high 17 points in 19 minutes. That’s 3 career-highs in one night. Maybe it’s their paucity of big names, but this 2 and 0 Rockets team has been my most-watched League Pass team. 

Josh Smith’s 18, new Hawk, Lou Williams’ 22, and the Hawks’ 47% shooting weren’t enough to overcome all of the Rockets and their career nights, but it’s Harden that’s particularly engrossing these days. A lot of us knew he was a strong player, I’ve written about him extensively. He’s a starter on every other team in the league, but OKC. After his first two outings with Houston, we could be talking about a top 10 player in the league. In fact, through 2 games—an extremely small sliver of action (take note Lakers fans)—he’s a top 5 player. It remains to be seen whether he can continue his torried assault on Rockets opponents, but James Harden has every Houston fan smiling, and every League Pass subscriber bookmarking their games. 

Daryl Morey has proved prescient once again; they wouldn’t have had the money to sign Harden to his $80 million max contract if they hadn’t amnestied Scola (dumb, but still), dropped Kyle Lowry (still dumb, but still) and signed Lin away from New York so they could shed Dragic and Lowry. But now they’ve locked Harden up for the foreseeable future, and that has to feel good for a franchise that’s been stuck in limbo since Yao and McGrady left. Kudos to Morey that was the butt of many-a-joke this off-season as he went all in for Dwight, and lost. He simply put more money on the table and won a so-far-stellar hand with James Harden.

pics via AP

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    James Harden has brought us a new Age.
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    introducing the bearded one. my favorite baller.
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