Best of the Rockets

Can James Harden ever catch Hakeem Olajuwon for greatest Rocket?

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We have always wondered if James Harden will ever match the success of Hakeem Olajuwon. There is no question that Harden is great, but will he be able to fill the shoes of Hakeem? These questions needed to be answered soon but when will they be?

Hakeem and Harden are honestly the best two players to ever put on a Rockets uniform. Even though these players are great, Hakeem's name weighs more than Harden. Hakeem has accomplished more by going back to back in the 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals. He is also No. 11 in all-time scoring. Like Harden, Hakeem terrorized defenders with his versatile post moves. He even created a move called the "The Dream Shake" which is now transcendent in the NBA. Hakeem was a twelve-time all-star, won defensive player of the year twice and made the NBA First Team six times. In addition, he was on the NBA Defensive Team five teams, and became an MVP in 1994. His accomplishments are through the roof, but Hakeem was also a team player by doing everything on the court. Hakeem even recorded two quadruple doubles in the same month in the 1987 season. His ability was so unbelievable and un-guardable that they called him the "The Dream." Players like Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan will always pay their respects to the best center in basketball. Does this huge shadow still stand over Harden? Should he have live up to these expectations?

Harden will never have a hard time breaking records nor being a MVP candidate in the NBA. He is easily today the best scorer in the league. Harden has accomplished a host of good deeds in this league by winning the Sixth Man of the Year award as well as the MVP award. He has also made the All-NBA Team six times, the All-Star team seven times, and the NBA First Team five times. Coaches in the NBA have a tough time figuring out the defense they will use for Harden. Harden gives most teams fits by getting to the line or using his unorthodox step back jumper. That step can now be seen in the WNBA, NBA, and in many, many high schools. Harden's creativity is the only thing that makes him comparable to Hakeem. Time and time again, analyst, reporters, and fans have questioned the true heart of Harden.


Hardens full ability to the game of basketball still has not been reached yet. Even though Harden has gotten better on defense, there are still questions regarding it. Analysts have pointed out the fact that he is a pretty good post defender and was second in steals last season. Harden would really become a great player if he tried to guard players like Steph Curry, LeBron James, or Paul George. He has also struggled to become a team player by not getting his teammates involved enough. That causes them to lose confidence in their shot making ability. Also dribbling the ball to the final digit has not helped his case either. Another flaw that Harden has is not approaching playoff games in a strong manner. Harden can also disappear during big games in the playoffs. He has been in Houston for seven seasons and never has seen the NBA Finals. We have always wondered if Harden will ever win a Championship in Houston. Harden will be all out of excuses if he cannot win one with Russell Westbrook.


Hopefully one day Harden will be able to get rid of Hakeem's shadow by matching his success or overcoming it.

So how pumped are you about this Rockets' season so far? Are you willing to fake it a little? Their 5-3 start is OK, but nothing to fire up the masses.

The Rockets are going to be very good again this season. Somehow that's probably part of the problem with the relative apathy for this team. Other than within the Rockets organization, or among the most loyal and hopeful fans, the Rockets are not considered a first tier NBA championship contender.

Russell Westbrook makes them a more compelling game to game watch. Other than that (and The Brodie is a big that), the Rockets have a bit of same old same old feel to them. Their same old same old isn't bad. It's quite good. James Harden is going to keep putting up astounding stats. The Rockets are going to keep firing up three point shots like no other. They will win plenty of games. But does it excite you on a regular basis? Even with the Warriors out of the way this season, until or unless the Rockets are in at least the Western Conference Final, they're not going to be vigorously embraced as a title threat. That's a tough standard. But it's where the Rockets are.

Astros making off-season news

It's still kind of letdown mode from the Astros losing the last two games of the World Series. Plus the off season Hot Stove of transactions isn't even warming yet, as we wait to see where Gerrit Cole signs to pitch for the next several years. Among many other moves.

Anyone can understand a father wanting to set up his son going forward. UH basketball Head Coach Kelvin Sampson has done a stupendous job rebuilding the Cougars, so in his new contract was able to have his son Kellen designated as "head coach in waiting." Jim Crane is the lead owner of the Astros, so we should all grasp his moving son Jared into Astros' business operations, and moving out Reid Ryan in the process. I now note that I don't know Reid really at all on a personal level, and not all that deeply on a professional level. While it's the on field results that by far most shape the image of the franchise, when the Astros were a joke in this city, bringing on the relentlessly upbeat, approachable, and classy son of Nolan as President of Business Operations was a notable step in the Astros' return to relevance. With Reid reassigned, in a non-shocking non-coincidence, Nolan is out as an Astros Special Advisor.

Key stretch for Texans after off week

Allow me a brief semi-screed about the Texans' open week. Most of the sports world refers to it as a "bye" week. Most of the sports world is wrong! A bye is when an individual or team advances in a tournament bracket without having to play. If for the first time in franchise history the Texans finish as one of the top two seeds in the AFC, they will earn a bye week past the Wild Card round directly into the Divisional round of the playoffs. A week during the season when a team has no game scheduled is not a bye week. It's an open week, or an off week, or a week without a game. It's not a bye week! I feel a little better for that, thanks.

As for the Texans, their open week (!) finds them in good position in the AFC South. At 6-3, they'll pick up tackling the defining stretch of their regular season schedule. Deshaun Watson gives them hope in any game anywhere, but it's unlikely the Texans win two road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl. They need the playoff bye which means one home win from a spot in AFC Championship game. There are two division leaders ahead of the Texans in the AFC. The Ravens are 6-2, the Patriots are 7-1. The Texans play both within their next three games: at Baltimore, home vs New England. Those challenges are sandwiched around a home game with the Colts. Indy is behind the Texans at 5-3 (before the Colts play the dismal Dolphins Sunday) but with a win at NRG Stadium would own the AFC South tiebreaker. With a loss in Baltimore they're probably Texans Toast with regard to securing a bye. With a win they'd have a real shot at bit, winning tiebreakers over both the Ravens and the Chiefs.

SEC showdown

College football's latest regular season game of the year has LSU at Alabama Saturday afternoon. The Crimson Tide has rolled the Tigers in their last eight meetings. Two of the last three years LSU didn't even score.This season's Alabama's defense isn't up to usual elite Nick Saban unit standards, LSU has an explosive modern up-tempo attack for the first time, well, ever. With a strong showing and a win Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow can about cinch up the Heisman Trophy. LSU's only Heisman winner did it 60 years ago, Billy Cannon in 1959. Entirely gratuitous follow up fact!: Syracuse won the National Championship that season, beating Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Buzzer Beaters

1. I'll take LSU +6 ½ 2. Toronto or Seattle Sunday? MLS Cup matchup! 3. Best rarely used synonyms for steal: Bronze-snaffle Silver-purloin Gold-filch





=

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome