Given the demand for off-season trading, which remains unfulfilled, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is under the microscope of fans this season. In his last three games, Harden averaged just 17 points per game (28.0% with 3 points), well below the NBA’s three-time defensive goal scorer.
This has led many to wonder if Harden is fully committed to the team, including Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy in a “hot mic” on the TV show after the team’s team after Wednesday’s loss to Indiana.
But there are some mitigating circumstances. For starters, Harden came out of a sprained ankle, forcing him to miss last Saturday̵
One argument in favor of Harden’s commitment may be his high assists. In this rough section of January 2020, which also took place over a much longer period of nine games, Harden averaged just 5.7 assists. In his last three games, however, Harden has led the Rockets as a facilitator with 11.7 assists per game – including a high-scoring 13-dozen team in a 132-90 game on Friday (boxing score) over visiting Orlando Magic.
Asked after the game about various criticisms of Harden’s efforts, Houston head coach Stephen Silas said he did not agree.
“James’s level of effort was great,” Silas said after the game. “Do everything I needed to do.” I really don’t have an answer for anyone to say they don’t play hard because I don’t see it. “
“He played ball, out of it,” Silas continued. “He plays in defense. … I don’t see that from him or the band. “
Ben McLimer hit his third 3-point, he was 3-3 in his first game of the season.
James Harden spends at least 10 seconds dancing for him on the sidelines during this timeout.
– Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) January 9, 2021
Curing Status: Engaged‼ ️ https://t.co/sqLDqSuTxG pic.twitter.com/YXXHjNnrun
– Jackson Gatlin (@JTGatlin) January 9, 2021
There will come a time when the Rockets (3-4) need Harden to do more as a goal scorer, perhaps in the next two games on Sunday and Tuesday against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. But on Friday, the Rockets won with Harden mainly as a leader and mediator – and they are convinced that he is in the right place, mentally, for the team.
Stephen Silas on Harden’s efforts this season: “James’s level of effort was great. He did everything I needed to do. I don’t really have an answer from anyone who says he doesn’t play hard because I don’t see it.”
– Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) January 9, 2021