We already know that the NBA summer usually starts getting crazy once free agency starts. This Saturday, July 1 is when free agency starts, but we have already had a wild beginning to the NBA offseason. With Chris Paul being traded to the Rockets, he was doing the Clippers organization a favor. Paul could have potentially walked in free agency because he knew teams were going to be offering some money the Clippers could not match. He was open to a trade and the organization did just that.
The Clippers were able to get some solid players and assets in return as they received Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, and the Rockets 2018 first-round pick.
With the trade behind us, and Paul opting-in the last year of his final contract with the Clippers to suit up with the Rockets…
How will he and James Harden work together?
When it comes to the overall development of the roster, it automatically improves the Rockets dramatically. With the opportunity to still obtain a third superstar like Paul George or Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets could truly become a threat to the Golden State Warriors. Until then, they will be battling out with the Spurs as the team behind Golden State.
At first glance, the Rockets now have two elite players on their roster, and yes, Paul is still elite. He is putting up still some of the best numbers for a point guard (18.1 points and 9.2 assists last season). The combination of both Harden and Paul could be something we have from another team in the Western Conference, the Warriors. In order for Harden and Paul to work, they will need to work off the ball, while controlling the ball in other situations. This is something James Harden has had to do for most of his career. Chris Paul has always been ball dominant as a point guard, and last year only averages less than one shot per game in catch-and-shoot situations.
At the same time, James Harden was the most successful of his career as the premier point guard in Mike D’Antoni’s offense (4th highest usage rating in NBA). He leads the league in assists last year and the Rockets finished as the 3rd seed. One would think adding Paul to the mix would only improve them further. It should, as we know Harden is still going to score off the ball, but it can’t come at the expense of his teammates.
Defense will also be a question for these two. We all know that James Harden is one to not play much defense throughout a season. Chris Paul is still a solid on-ball guard defender but lacks with switches because of his size. Teams try to expose him on switches in order to create better opportunity inside. It isn’t something the Rockets are not aware of because Paul is one of the smaller guards in the league.
It may seem like a lot of questions could arise from this trade as to how Chris Paul and James Harden will fit together. The Rockets improved their team, no question. They had to add further elite talent to keep up with the 2017 champion Warriors. One thing we do know is that the Warriors set the bar with how to build a super-team. It is no longer just adding players and hoping it will work. It is now about talent AND fit. The combination of Chris Paul and James Harden screams elite….but does it scream fit? We will soon find out!