Apr 14, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) warms up before a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: Why James Harden is NOT a Superstar

Houston Rockets: Why James Harden is NOT a Superstar

What is the definition of a superstar?  Everyone has a different perspective on what it takes to become one, and there aren’t many right or wrong answers.

In today’s NBA, a lot of fans throw that word around quite loosely and I worry if the word is losing its context.

The All-NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams were released and here is the list:

All-NBA teams:

1st: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Joakim Noah, James Harden, Chris Paul

2nd: Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Stephen Curry, Tony Parker

3rd: Paul George, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson, Goran Dragic, Damian Lillard

The one thing that sticks out on this list is the fact that James Harden is on the NBA’s first team.  Before I get slandered for a complete 24 hours in my Twitter mentions, allow me to explain myself.

What is the definition of a superstar?  A player that scores points, and causes the opposing team problems all game? Yes.  Makes teammates better? Of Course.  Two-way player? Absolutely.  A reliable ballplayer game-in and game-out despite the circumstances? Right Again.

James Harden has all of these traits, but does not utilize them.  Still not sold?

Feel free to let me clarify myself:

Clearly, Harden has a couple of things he needs to work on before we can put him in the conversation with the greats of today’s game.  His defense is not the only thing preventing him from being better.

When I watch players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and other legit NBA superstars I notice similarities.

These guys win their respective match-ups night in and night out despite who the other guy is in front defending them.  They may start off slow or possibly get in early foul trouble, but when their team needs them the most more often than not these guys rise to the occasion.  Whether it’s on the defensive end or offensive end their team looks to them to get them to finish line.

Watching Harden play last season he showed flashes of being able to do this but not consistently.  One could tell from the start of the first quarter of a game and infer if it was going to be an easy night for Harden or a hard one.

When it was easy, things went well, the basketball was moving, fellow teammates were unselfish and the best player will get everyone involved.

On the flip side of that, when things started off ugly more often than not they ended that way, and a lot of early season losses were a result of this.

I’m not here to rain on Harden’s parade though, he did do a lot of wonderful things in the regular season.  He became the first Rockets’ player since Hakeem Olajuwon to be named on the NBA’s First Team.  That was back during the 1996-97 season!

The shooting guard also finished 5th in the NBA in scoring at 24.8 PPG while also leading the Rockets to one of the best records in the NBA for the 2nd half of the season.  He also scored 6.9 points per 4th Quarter coming in 2nd to only to Kevin Durant, the reigning MVP.

Apr 27, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives past Portland Trail Blazers forward Dorell Wright (1) during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest problem with James Harden is that he does not realize the opportunity that lies in front of him.  Rarely do NBA franchises have owners that not only want to win, but are willing to spend money to do so.

Les Alexander is one of those owners!

After the completion of his first season with the Rockets,  Harden verbally made a call for help to anyone that would listen.  The Rockets answered that call and brought in Dwight Howard.

There has been talk of the Rockets adding third superstar no matter what as a result of their playoff failure.  The team seems to be so hell bent on doing so.

This type of news would make most superstars who need help on their team *cough* Kyrie Irving *cough* Carmelo Anthony jump for joy, but for Harden it seems like he’s being nonchalant about the whole thing.

Hopefully this disappointing early-exit of the playoffs and constant scrutiny on multiple social networking sites will cause the start of a fire in Harden’s belly.

Otherwise, he will get the label as a player that just “wants to score,” make money and doesn’t care about winning.


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Tags: Houston Rockets James Harden

  • coalminds

    All you need to do is youtube “James Harden defensive juggernaut”.

  • jcsantos

    You should also consider the “making your team mates better” aspect. See why most Rockets players scored better, had way better ball movement (and better defense) when Harden was INJURED. Parsons indirectly criticized Harden’s iso balling that has stagnated most of their offense throughout the season in a post game interview, after they WON WITHOUT HIM in BACK-TO-BACK GAMES against SPURS and MAVS (Mavs had HOME COURT).

    Parsons got really long bench minutes in the following games and shot so poorly the next couple, which should already obvious on whether or not he was punished for making that statement.

  • http://houseofhouston.com Patrick Lowe

    While I understand what you’re saying, some points aren’t very valid. Your last argument is that he shouldn’t be 1st All-NBA bc he’s not openly campainging for a third star… I’m not sure that’s a requirement for voting. My counter to this would also be that he’s openly regarded as the best Shooting Guard in the league and had the best season for any SG. Why wouldn’t he be 1st Team? Every other player you mentioned was at a different position.

  • tea412

    Sounds a bit like you are blaming Harden for a first round exit. He was bad the first two games, but then he was great. But for the bad call on Howard in game one, inexcusable turnovers by Lin in the final minutes twice, and a ridiculous defensive bust on the last game, this was a series they would have won. Harden didn’t cause any of those losses. May be not fair to declare him an illegitmate superstar for being nonchalant about something he can’t control. Maybe he just wants to win regardless of whether the Rockets are successful at bringing in another star.

  • Ray B

    Houston is a better team and would of beaten the Blazers without Harden. Harden is a top 5 talent but he is lacking mentally. He is the greatest ball hog and the worst defender in the NBA. Until he matures and learns to play team ball….any team he is on….will NEVER win.

  • Mike De Moor

    I guess George Gervin wasn’t a superstar… People always act like the game is a 50/50 split between offense and defense in the NBA, but basketball is a game where great offense beats greats defense on a given play. Yes, for a team to win a title they need to be solid defensively, but when is the last time a team won a title without one or two offensive closers, just a bunch of great defenders?… In the NBA there have always been superstars who play poor defense, and although Harden is a lazy defender, his defense isn’t what cost Houston in the playoffs (check out Wes Matthews’ stats for the series)…. Houston needs a vocal, veteran leader who will hold everyone accountable defensively. When that happens, watch out.