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3 early goals for Rockets superstar James Harden in the 2019-20 NBA season

James Harden

The Houston Rockets went all out this offseason to improve their title chances for the coming campaign. The addition of former Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is definitely the highlight of what should be considered as a very successful summer for the Rockets.

However, with so much firepower on their roster, much is expected of Houston this season. As a matter of fact, there is probably more pressure on them now than they had in the past few seasons when they functioned with the now-defunct James Harden-Chris Paul duo.

One thing is certain, though. Despite what was a whirlwind of a summer for the team, the Rockets’ fate will still rely heavily on former MVP winner James Harden. Today, we present three goals the 30-year-old will need to achieve as he leads his team to what is considered by many as a make-or-break season for the Rockets.

3. Building Harmony

It is without question that this is still going to be Harden’s team. As a matter of fact, he might need to re-establish himself as the alpha dog early on. That is going to be easier said than done with Westbrook now in the mix. However, the good thing about this is that these two were former teammates in OKC, and they have since remained friends off the court. Moreover, Westbrook has proven that he is capable of taking a backseat to let his teammate shine, as he did with Paul George and the Thunder last season.

As the team’s leader, however, Harden will need to take the initiative in ensuring the presence of a certain level of harmony within the team. Harden and the rest of the Rockets will need to let Westbrook do his own thing — to some extent, of course — so as to make the former MVP feel right at home. Team chemistry is going to be the name of the game for the Rockets this coming campaign, and for their benefit, this will need to be established early on.

2. Improving Efficiency

You’ve probably heard this somewhere before, but yet, let us emphasize this mind-boggling fact right here: Harden and Westbrook are the top two guys in the league in terms of usage rate. Put these two ball-dominant stars on one team, and surely, something’s got to give, right?

Given this scenario, it wouldn’t be surprising if both guys’ usage rates take a hit. Westbrook, being the new kid on the block, will definitely experience a more significant dip in this respect, but Harden might also be asked to handle the ball less. That means that he will need to make his potentially reduced usage rate count.

Last season, Harden heaved a career-high 24.5 field goal attempts per ballgame (13.2 from distance — also a career-high mark), and he might just be looking at less shots this season. He has consistently been shooting the ball at 44 percent over the past few years, but a slight bump in efficiency wouldn’t hurt.

Moreover, Harden averaged 5.0 turnovers per contest last term, and while that was a significant improvement from his 5.7 turnovers in the 2016-17 season, keeping it below 4.5 turnovers per game should be another target for Harden.

1. A Trip to the Finals

With the powerhouse Golden State Warriors now disbanded, this might just be the year Harden and the Rockets finally get out of the West. Sure, a new breed of contenders have emerged this season, but the fact of the matter is that, like the Rockets, teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will also need some time to build their team chemistry. Houston might hold the advantage here, given Harden and Westbrook’s shared history, so if the Rockets are somehow able to strike first, then this might just be the season that marks Harden’s second trip to the NBA Finals, and his first as a Rocket.

It’s not going to be an easy ride for Houston this season, but it appears that they do have the tools to succeed. Harden will definitely be at the center of all this, and so long as he is able to accomplish the first two items discussed above, then there is a very good chance that he is also able to achieve goal number three.

As a matter of fact, Harden and company might just have what it takes to take it a step further and go all the way. The Rockets are certainly not the heavy favorites to win the NBA title this season (B/R has given them a 19/1 chance which is good for the sixth-best odds, behind the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Milwaukee Bucks — in that particular order), but surely, we have to give them a fighting chance.

The post 3 early goals for Rockets superstar James Harden in the 2019-20 NBA season appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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