How has the James Harden trade affected the Thunder and the Rockets?

James Harden

Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets on the eve of the season. He has since been in scintillating form. Ali Babakarkhil takes a look.

‘Wow’ was the reaction of many people around the world, fans and players  like when first hearing the news.

I was shocked as a basketball fan knowing the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden away to the Houston Rockets.

Harden being a key part of the OKC nucleus that led the team to the Finals was in discussion of new deal to stay in Oklahoma. After reports of Harden rejecting a 4 year $52 million contract, the Thunder moved quickly to risk losing him through free agency and traded the reigning sixth man of the year along with Cole Aldrich, Daquean Cook, Lazar Hayward and two first round draft picks to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft considerations to the Thunder.

It has been almost a week since that trade and already day 5 into the new NBA season, I will look at how the trade has affected both teams and what the future holds for both franchises.

Lets look at the wins and losses. OKC are 1-2. The Thunder have had little time to develop team chemistry with Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, who will see little playing time behind Martin and Thabo Sefolosha.

This was expected though, team chemistry issues are common at the beginning of the season and the Thunder have experienced these issues beforehand with the departure of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, traded to the Celtics for center Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.

It’s clear that there are some chemistry issues that must be resolved, in particular in the playmaking department, but removing a key element from a team that led OKC to the NBA Finals can be potentially disastrous.

The Rockets however are 2-1 and were cruising with James Harden’s 82 points in two games and stellar play, up until Saturday vs. Portland when they were brought back down to earth after the Trailblazers held Harden to 8-24 shooting and its clear that the Rockets are going to need him to carry them offensively every night.

Linsanity seems to have resumed in Houston with Jeremy Lin playing his usual basketball averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. After Lin and Harden, scoring and playmaking is going to be difficult to come by with the likes of Asik, Patterson, Aldrich, Cook etc not known for their offensive capabilities.

It is early in the season and there is a lot of time for these two teams to gel and get better with their summer acquisitions so the end of the regular season/playoffs will be a better time to reflect upon the two teams record, the statistics of the players in particular Kevin Martin and James Harden and most importantly how much has this trade affected these two teams.

image: © Keith Allison