Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beard's Gonna Beard

Before And After Beard
So James Harden didn't sign a below market deal to stay with Oklahoma City, and was subsequently dealt to Houston for a bushel basket of to be determined utility (defense-free shooting guard Kevin Martin, first round pick Jeremy Lamb, future picks). Harden, it was said by angry or sad Thunder Fans, wasn't interested in giving up cash to stay with a championship contender. Others noted that the Thunder weren't interested in paying the reigning Sixth Man of the Year even after making an absurd amount of money last year, and that when you make decisions on money, more than talent, it's a prelude to downfall.

Harden, as usual, didn't say much: maybe when you've got a beard like that, you just don't have to talk very much. Tonight, he made his debut for Houston, as part of a back court with Jeremy Lin, in a rotation where he's clearly the top option. It was a road game against the Pistons, who aren't the defensive hammers they used to be, but still get after it.

It, um, went well. Scored 37 on 14 of 25 shooting, 4 of 10 from the three point line, and 5 of 6 from the line. Added six boards, 12 assists, 4 steals and a block. (Lin went 12-8-4 on 5 of 12 shooting, by the way.)

Um, Yikes.

Now, one game does not a career make, and Harden (and Houston) will both struggle when faced with better competitors and scouting. Both guards turned it over four times tonight, and as much as I like Chandler Parsons for sneaky fantasy basketball goodness, he's really not going to be on anybody's radar as the guy you have to stop. Houston looked to me to be a competitive but limited .500 team before this trade, and while they are better now, I can't imagine them getting to a higher seed.

But, um, he might be one of the 10 best players in the NBA now.

He's also, gulp, 23.

And Houston just got him for a guy who's never going to sniff that level and a couple of lottery tickets.

Enjoy him, H-Town.

And Thunder Fan?

Try not to spend the rest of Martin's time in your city pining for what he so clearly is not...

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