Dominance seems like a major understatement for the way the duo have taken the stage by storm.
However, fans and NBA pundits raised some concerns ahead of the suspension of the season. The two often go by the chance-by-chance offense.
So whenever Westbrook is handling the drive, Harden just stands at the perimeter or even further rather than executing any off-ball movement. People actually went on the internet seeking answers to, “What is Harden doing?”
But it seemed more like a strategy from Rockets rather than just a genuine mistake.
What was the reason for Harden’s off-ball stagnancy?
The Beard is never left alone on the court, he definitely has a defender or two stuck to him. So while he is taking that off-ball break, he’s actually pulling one of the best defenders out of the 4-on-4 play. It has actually worked for the team several times.
Back then, in January, Coach Mike D’Antoni gave a statement to The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani regarding this move.
“Where to go?” D’Antoni gave this reasoning for lack of involvement by Harden in such gameplays. “I mean, are you going to get into Russell’s way? Russell’s going to the hoop. So just stand there. If they come off, he’s going to catch-and-shoot.
“But to move around and run around and get him tired for no reason? No. You can’t make James more efficient, I don’t think, than what he is. I think it’d just wear him down.”
So apparently it was done to conserve Harden’s energy as and when required.
James Harden will be more involved says, Houston Rockets coach
With this long patch of no action, team strategies have seen a couple of changes. Recently, after Houston’s scrimmage game against the Boston Celtics, Eric Gordon injured his ankle and found himself shelved for some time.
He was the third-leading scorer for the team. Therefore, his absence is felt rather deeply.
With this adaptation of replacing Gordon, Coach D’Antoni has also confirmed Harden’s involvement in off-ball movements and screens. In fact, he is quite optimistic about the same.
Coach D'Antoni on James Harden off-ball & as a screener: "Yeah, I think he'll move off the ball some more. We've been talking about it in certain situations he can do that. I guarantee you one thing, whether he's on, off, middle, on the bench, he's going to score a lot of points"
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) July 29, 2020
We’ll have to take a look at how that works for the Rockets once the season restarts. Houston Rockets will be up against Dallas Mavericks in their first regular-season match on 1st August. Will they kick-start with a win?