One of my favorite parts of the 2014-15 regular season was watching Houston Rockets guard James Harden become one of the five best players in the NBA.
Harden, who finished 2nd in MVP voting to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, shouldered a massive load for the Rockets, who were without Dwight Howard for half the season and key rotation players Patrick Beverley and Donatas Montiejunas for their entire playoff run.
Harden led the Rockets in points (27.4) and assists (7.0) per game, and propelled Houston to not only the West’s 2nd seed, but the Conference Finals as well, heights many didn’t expect them to reach due to brutality of the Wild, Wild West and their lack of depth stemming from the smattering of injuries.
Harden did a masterful job as Houston’s primary ball-handler and playmaker, but according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Harden would like some assistance offensively, hoping from a reprieve as the Rockets’ only legitimate offensive creator.
He said he “definitely” would like to see the Rockets add another playmaker to take some of that responsibility out of his hands.
“That’s one of the conversations me and Daryl are going to have (and) the coaches,” Harden said. “That’s one of the pieces to add, but that’s later conversations. We’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group we have. This summer we have to work hard and be ready for next year.”
Still, Harden said the Rockets could benefit from keeping more of their core together. Of the 15 players on the Rockets final 2013-14 roster, seven were gone by the start of the next season. Just five players on roster that faced the Trail Blazers were around by the start of this season’s playoffs.
Add this to the list of offseason duties for the Rockets, a list which will most likely include re-signing at least two of three guys that were big-time playoff contributors: Jason Terry, Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, who all happen to be unrestricted free agents. Beverley is also a restricted free agent, so Houston will have to make some important decisions in regards to matching a potential offer sheet given to Beverley by another team.
As for who the Rockets could pursue to slot next to Harden in the backcourt, a few names come to mind: Rajon Rondo (unrestricted,) Goran Dragic (unrestricted,) Ty Lawson, George Hill and Brandon Knight (restricted.) It’ll be interesting to see what Morey does to upgrade Houston’s roster, as he’s stated that his stars’ input is very important to him. Morey has been on the hunt for a third “star” to aid their talented duo, and it very well could come in the form of a point guard.