A conversation on James Harden

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On Jan. 14, the three-time scoring champ and 2018 league MVP James Harden was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets. James Harden joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, giving the team a “big three” and perhaps making them the most talented team in the league. Here are our takes on the trade on the situation in Brooklyn:

Are the Nets the best team in the East?

Dante: The Nets are not the best team in the East, simply because of their bench depth. With the trade for James Harden, they gave up four first-round picks and four pick swaps, along with Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen. That leaves DeAndre Jordan to start at center, and he’s been having an awful season so far. However, the big three of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving should be a pretty good scoring trio, as long as Harden realizes that he can’t be the number one option anymore.

Josh: Yes. Both on paper and on the court the Nets are the best team in the East. Kevin Durant is in prime form right now and this is his team. Averaging 29 points per game, five assists per game, and seven rebounds per game, he is a legit MVP candidate. Addressing Dante’s take that the Nets don’t have a good supporting cast, I would disagree. Joe Harris and Jeff Green can both shoot lights out, and it is essential for a team as good as the Nets to have shooters. Beyond that, I would agree that no player really stands out, but they don’t need to because the Nets will always have a superstar on the floor.

Is James Harden under the most pressure right now?

Dante: For sure, and that’s because he’s looking desperate for a championship right now. The whole reason he left the Rockets organization was that he felt like the team wasn’t going anywhere, and he wanted to win a ‘chip by any means. Now he’s paired with Kevin Durant, who’s averaging 29 points per game, and Kyrie Irving, who’s averaging 28 points per game, which means that there’s almost no excuse for them to not outscore every other NBA team. NBA fans want to know whether Harden is a winner, and this is his opportunity to do so.

Josh: Undoubtedly. The NBA is often called a scorers league, and James Harden fits right in. But now it is time for Harden to prove that he is more than a scorer; he needs to prove he is a winner. Consistently averaging 30 points per game, Harden made himself a star in Houston. However, James Harden did not win a championship, and I feel like he never really came close. It wasn’t because he didn’t have enough talent around him either. Even after the Rockets brought in an elite point guard in Chris Paul, and later, a league MVP in Russell Westbrook, Harden and the Rockets failed to make the finals. And last season, despite having Harden and Westbrook, the Rockets were not even finals contenders. Even though he’s not the best player on this Nets team, if the Nets don’t make the finals and make the series interesting, the blame falls on Harden.

Is this Nets team going to work?

Dante: Probably not. As of right now, the Brooklyn Nets have 3 good players. Granted, they’re 3 top 15 players in the league, but after those three the rest of the team is awful. Also, the future of the Nets team looks a whole lot worse than the present. They’re in salary cap hell, especially now with Harden making $50 million a year, Durant making $40 million, and Kyrie making $30 million. Therefore, free agency is going to look awful unless a free agent is willing to take a lot less money. They also gave up four first-rounders, which messes up their future drafts greatly. If the Nets don’t win a championship with these three stars, this will go down as another Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade, and the Nets will be awful for years to come.

Josh: Again, as I mentioned earlier, I disagree with Dante on the Nets not having strong enough role players, but the role players are not going to make or break this team. The Nets have the pieces; now it is up to the superstars to get the job done. This is Kevin Durant’s team, and I think it is imperative for Kyrie and Harden to understand that. The Nets will win the East, as long as Harden understands his role on the team and doesn’t try to take over the show.

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