James Harden has quickly become one of the best scorers in the league after a few short seasons. He was once the third option for the Thunder team who played him off the bench. However now, he has become the face of the Houston Rockets’ franchise. Harden wants to play for a competing team but he knows he will need other superstar talent alongside of him to compete against teams like the Heat, Knicks, Lakers, Nets, and even his old team, the Thunder. Yes, he might have Linsanity. He also has the amazing Omer Asik on his team, however by no means is his current team a championship team.
Harden has come out to the media, and said that this team needs to make improvements whether it is midway into the season or in the upcoming summer to help get another all star caliber player to pair alongside the bearded wonder. Even though, Harden is quite correct on his assumption, he is still fully committed to the organization and feels like his current team is heading into the right direction and has pieces for the Rockets to build on in the future. To develop more onto the possibilities, I know five great players in the league right now that can immediately help the Rockets and James Harden compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
1. Josh Smith
I personally think that all of my five players, this one might make the most logistical sense for the Rocket’s organization to make a move for. Smith is only 27 and has raw talent that far exceeds 99% of the league. J-Smooth has an explosive burst, speed, leaping ability. He’s an unpolished version of LeBron James to me with the lack of intangibles and leadership qualities.
What Smith could ultimately provide the Rockets with is his scoring ability. The forward can easily put up 16+ points and can dramatically help the Rockets in their full court offense. Smith and Harden can effectively work with a pick and roll, something in which J-Smooth is superior at.
Josh Smith will be a free agent after this year and it’s pretty evident that his career in Atlanta is over. GM Danny Ferry is looking to rebuild around a team with Jeff Teague and Al Horford. Smith has looked to covet the opportunity of competing for a championship. So why not join James Harden, a top-ten scorer in the league and a great coach in Kevin McHale.
2. Andrea Bargnani
Andrea Bargnani has long been a forgotten name around the NBA circle ever since he was drafted number one overall in 2006. The dude can flat out score. He’s the closest thing to Dirk Nowitzki in the league. I know I’m going to get some hate after that statement, however its hard to deny that. Bargnani can light up the scoreboard with his great perimeter shooting ability and overall technical play.
The Rockets would tremendously need that especially when Harden has off-nights. Its good to know that there is a capable second scoring option behind Harden. Bargnani is also a tall body that can get you some rebounds and maybe get you a block a night. He would be a good fit alongside Omer Asik.
Bargnani doesn’t have the star quality that others on my list have, but that makes him very valuable. Bargnani will clearly not demand as much money as the others and he is a good glove fit for the Rocket’s offense who seem to reliant on James Harden.
3. Brandon Jennings
The curious thing about Jennings is that he might be too much like James Harden. Both Harden and Jennings have capable point guard abilities whether its their elite ball handling and their above average passing, both can definitely handle the ball. Their biggest likeness is their willingness to shoot the ball and the long ball especially. Both can light it up from outside and aren’t shy from driving to the basket.
So the obvious and ignorant answer to this duo might be it’ll never work. However, I don’t think that’s the case. I think Jennings and Harden can work well of each other and develop a new style of basketball with a fast break and full court offensive team.
Well, what about Jeremy Lin. The Rockets would likely trade him. Lin brings in tremendous hype and money to teams that have him. It’ll be relatively easy to trade him to a team looking to get the additional attention.
Jennings had great raw talent and even more has room to grow and to ultimately become one of the league’s best point guard. Jennings needs some guidance and with Coach McHale and the winning nature in which Harden was brought up on, Jennings could see his production skyrocket.
4. Amaré Stoudemire
Well wouldn’t this be interesting. Amaré Stoudemire in my mind still has tremendous talent, no matter how much the haters feel like he doesn’t. Stoudemire still can make his mid range jump-shot and is devastating in the pick and roll/screen game. It would be very fun to see Harden and Stoudemire working on the screen and roll and it could really make defenses collapse. What Stoudemire brings is his pedigree and even with his many surgeries and health concerns, his excellent athleticism and conditioning.
The Knicks have shown they don’t need Stoudemire to be competitive and they play better because they already have that go-to offensive player in Carmelo Anthony. What separates Harden from Melo is his willingness to pass the ball. When Stoudemire has a great passer on his team, its proven that he plays at an extremely high level and is one of the league’s best big men.
What the Rockets get is a man to fill up the essentially weak power forward position. They have the cap room to make it happen and enough prospects to persuade the Knicks to make a deal. Could it be possible for a Lin-Stoudemire re-union. Only time will tell.
5. Pau Gasol
The one player that has been on the Rocket’s radar the last couple of months has been Pau Gasol. Gasol has essentially worn out his welcome in Los Angeles, and the once favorite Los Angeles Lakers are below .500 and are looking to make a move. Gasol has been the scapegoat for their lack of wins, so its almost predictable that Gasol will be moved.
Why not Houston? Coach Kevin McHale has long been known as one of the best offensive big men in the league, so why not trade for Gasol, who is one of the best players in the paint. Gasol would gain a lot from the former Celtics great, and he would easily maximize his potential in Houston.
Harden would be effective having an inside presence in the middle to allow him to have enough space to shoot his long range jump-shots. Gasol and Omer Asik would make a formidable duo in the middle to counter the Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, and Dallas Mavericks big men.
If I was part of the Rocket’s management, I would have the Lakers on speed dial, and ask about making a trade for the Spaniard.