Houston Rockets: The way Chris Paul and James Harden will co-exist

April 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
April 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) moves the ball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

What started off as something unrealistic is now true, Chris Paul is now a piece of the Houston Rockets! So how will the new back court duo co-exist?

The NBA is less than 24 hours away from the start of the Houston Rockets‘ free agency, but the biggest domino has already fallen.

In a trade that caught the world by surprise, the Houston Rockets have acquired nine-time All-Star Chris Paul in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, Darrun Hilliard, and DeAndre Liggins along with a 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Shortly after the transaction, questions begin to surface on how Paul and his new backcourt mate, James Harden, will co-exist in Houston? And when thinking about Paul and Harden on the court together, it’s easy to understand why.

As the only floor generals of their respected teams, both players ranked in the league’s top 10 in touches, time of possession, and passes last season.

However, much like when Dwyane Wade and LeBron James joined forces in Miami, Harden and Paul will find a way to make this duo work.

What is often overlooked in this deal is the comfort both players will have playing together on the court.

Although he executed Mike D’Antoni‘s offense to perfection, the addition of CP3 will put Harden back in his original position. And all though he had an MVP-worthy season, Harden has proved that he is more efficient when playing off the ball.

Now granted, in his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden was nowhere near the superstar he is today. But when playing alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, his shooting percentage when playing off the ball that season cannot be overlooked.

During the 2012 season, the former Sixth Man of the Year winner shot a career-best 49.1 percent from the field, which is his most efficient year shooting the ball as a pro.

However, when compared to his career in Houston, Harden’s field goal percentage does drop a bit.

As the Rockets’ only ball handler, the Beard has only shot 44.2 percent from the field in his first five seasons. So one can only imagine how much more efficient Harden’s game will become playing next to Paul.

Remember, playing alongside Paul made players like Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and JJ Redick household names. So just think how much more of Harden’s game will elevate with Paul.

Overall, no one will reap the benefits of this trade the most than Chris Paul. No disrespect to Blake Griffin, but James Harden is by far the most gifted player Paul has ever played with in his career.

For the first time in his career, Paul will not have the weight of a franchise solely riding on his shoulders.

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With Harden, Paul will have a trusted teammate who can orchestrate the offense just as good as himself. And for a 32-year old point guard, this may be the key to prolonging his Hall-of-Fame career.

In 12 seasons, Paul has accumulated almost 16,000 points and is currently ranked tenth all-time in assists (8,251). The former Rookie of the Year winner (2006) has marked his place in NBA history as one of the league’s greatest point guards. But playing under D’Antoni will take Paul’s career to new heights.

In an era dominated by several scoring point guards, Paul has remained near the top of the list as a pass-first point guard. Since his rookie season, Paul has been one of the league’s best distributors for more than a decade.

His vision and creativity are similar to that of Steve Nash, which makes him the ideal point guard for the Rockets.

However, unlike like Nash, Paul has always been a respectable rebounder for his size. At 6’0,” and 175 pounds, he has ranked near the top of rebounding point guards in each of the last two seasons.

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Defensively, Paul would be a major upgrade to the Rockets perimeter defense. Sure, he isn’t the hard-nosed hustler Patrick Beverley was in Houston, but Paul is no sub on the defensive end.

As a nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team member, Paul has established himself as one of the NBA’s top defender. He is currently ranked 15th in league history with 1,913 in his career.

Even after the pieces Houston gave up to acquire Paul, the Rockets are already a better team than without him. And once Chirs Paul and James Harden find their chemistry, the Rockets will become a threat to upset the heavily favored Golden State Warriors next season.