James Harden is having another MVP caliber season averaging 36.5 points, 8 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game. In January, Harden averaged 43.6 points, 8.7 rebounds an 7.6 assists per game. He has also scored 30-plus points in 27 straight games.
The Houston Rockets are fifth in the Western Conference and are climbing up the standings after a slow start. Harden is playing well and could lead the Rockets through the playoffs. But, is it enough to win a championship? Kobe Bryant doesn’t think so.
Recently, Bryant sat down with ESPN’s The Jump for an interview. In the interview, Bryant discussed Harden’s recent play. He complimented Harden, but also said he doesn’t think his style will win championships.
“Well, I think he has to do what he has to do in order for his team to win,” Bryant said, “And there’s certain levels to it. So, there’s the style of play in which he’s using, which I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships. I don’t think that style’s ever going to win championships.”
However, Bryant did say that Harden is doing what needed for his team.
“But at the same time, you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games,” Bryant said. “So, you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing it.”
On Monday, the Rockets beat the Phoenix Suns 118-110. Harden had 44 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. When asked about Bryant’s comments, Harden agreed.
“For right now, he’s probably right,” Harden said. “This way, that we’re playing, won’t happen, won’t get us to where we want to go. But we haven’t had a full roster yet, so I’m excited for that to come.”
Harden is aware that Bryant’s statements could be true, but blamed injuries. He said that various injuries such as Chris Paul’s hamstring injury. Paul recently returned from his injury at the end of January. The Rockets have been without some of their key players throughout the season. The Rockets have not had their full roster in the last few months. Once their roster is intact, they can play to their full potential.
The Houston Rockets are most likely playoff bound. Harden’s season is remarkable so far. It could potentially continue in the playoffs. Or, the Rockets have their typical playoffs and get eliminated in the second round or Conference Finals.
Despite playing well, there is a chance Bryant’s comments are true. Regardless, Harden has a chance to silence critics and lead the Rockets to a championship.