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It’s Time for Harden to Start

October 5, 2011
By

In all of the NBA Lockout mayhem recently, there was an article posted by Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld.com. He graded the top benches in the NBA, with the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls topping the list. No complaints here. However, under the honorable mention category he mentions the Oklahoma City Thunder bench and the dynamic James Harden. I beg to differ. I think that James will be the starting shooting guard for OKC this upcoming season, the writing is on the wall.

Coach Scott Brooks has consistently started Thabo Sefolosha in the backcourt the past few years, and rightly so. I love what he’s brought to the table (defense, athleticism, and timely shooting). Scott had enough scoring out there to start games, what he needed was a stabilizer…a defender. It was the right move. James was young and brash (and still is a bit), so his game was better-suited coming off the bench. He was a high-risk, high-reward type of player…ideal for the role of Sixth Man. However, things have changed heading into 2012.

Back in February, the Thunder traded versatile forward Jeff Green for bruising center Kendrick Perkins. Also leaving in the deal was the low-post scoring of Nenad Krstic. As a result, Brooks inserted the athletic but offensively-limited Serge Ibaka (okay so he was making his jumper for Spain this summer, but I’m not sold yet). You see where I’m headed here? The OKC starting lineup isn’t as explosive as it once was, despite the presence of superstar Kevin Durant and superfreak Russell Westbrook. I think another offensive weapon is needed out there to start games. It’s not just for scoring “per say” but also to create space for these two scoring dynamos. How many times did we see Russ drive into two defenders against Dallas in the Conference Finals? The floor will be much more wide-open out there with the dangerous Harden.

James Harden is also a different player than the rookie Scott Brooks inherited. Sure, as great as his offensive ability has always been his game back then was inconsistent. His cockiness was greater than his productivity at times. Today, James has abandoned the headband and high socks for more consistent play and quiet leadership (okay, so the monster Baron Davis beard remains). These are all traits that the Thunder now need in their starting lineup…facial hair included (has Russell Westbrook even started shaving yet?). James has the perfect blend of L.A. swag and Midwest demeanor. He has an old-school feel to his game, you never see him rushing out there. He seems to take the game at his pace, getting to where he wants to go. This will click well in the starting lineup with the acrobatics of Westbrook and the dominance of Durant.

We all know the adage it’s not who starts games, it’s who finishes them. Coach Brooks can still go either way at the 2-spot to finish games (include Daequan Cook and Nate Robinson in here). But I think it’s time for James Harden to take on a bigger role in Oklahoma City….more scoring, more leadership, and more facetime. We know he’s ready…..but the question is, are defenses?

 

{for more Oklahoma City Thunder coverage checkout the OKC Team Page}

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14 Responses to It’s Time for Harden to Start

  1. David on October 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

    he shoulda started last yr

  2. JB on October 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

    How can you take Thabo out the lineup with all his defense and steady play?!

  3. GT on October 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    THA-BO! THA-BO! THA-BO!

  4. Timmy D on October 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    When is Nick Collison going to get more minutes? he has a better +/- than Serge.

  5. Viper J on November 3, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Has anyone seen Serge’s jumper these days??
    He was on fire in the european tournament, it’s gonna be a great year for the Thunder!!

  6. Dr. Raisley on November 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

    James Harden is clearly the choice to start at the shooting guard position. Coach Brooks has been waiting for this moment for years, now it’s time to make the change. James is ready.

  7. A Sinnett on November 27, 2011 at 6:16 am

    yes. this is a no brainer. if scott brooks doesn’t start james he shouldn’t be on the bench

  8. Fortner on November 30, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    i think safalosha is the most underrated player in the league. james harden has more growing up to do

  9. Nate98 on December 2, 2011 at 2:59 am

    this is a no-brainer. James Harden should and will start for the Thunder on opening nite. Orlando’s gonna be 0-1

  10. Gerry64 on December 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    We need hardens offense. sefolosha is a marginal player anyways

  11. Pastor Steve on December 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

    i gotta prediction for u martin: harden will be most improved and an all-star

    • Deasy on December 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Sorry, but you are completely wrong about Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. Durant loves it here and in case you haven’t nocietd lately, more and more Thunder and KD jerseys are popping up all over the place. So, yes…Oklahoma City is a big enough stage for the next NBA Superstar…Kevin Durant aka Durantula!

  12. Ostertag on December 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Did anyone see the Mavs game yesterday? Harden looked Horrible. Thabo is the truth!

  13. Walter Tynes on February 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    he’s starting now, thanks to Thabo’s injury.

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