As the Brooklyn Nets continue to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, it is time to admit James Harden has never been a number one player. When someone thinks of a number one, it is a LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, or Stephen Curry. All of these players have the talent, leadership, and understanding of what it takes to win and elevate a team. James Harden does not. Not only did he have multiple All-Stars in Houston throughout the years but almost all of those same players made it work wherever else they played. Over the years, Harden’s MVPs and scoring titles have made some media and fans forget he’s never been to the Finals and checked out of the playoffs on multiple occasions. Now that he has left Houston, it must be acknowledged that James Harden has always been a number 2 player.
From his start with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden was never considered one of the top two players on the team. At that time, Durant and Russell Westbrook were one of the best dynamic duos. Harden became the star of the Rockets and from 2012- 2021 they put multiple pieces in place for the star to thrive. Only one problem, Harden cared more about MVPs and scoring titles than championships and being a good teammate. Even though there isn’t a problem with wanting those accolades, it becomes an issue with you are considered “the guy” on a team. For example, most of the veterans and players competing for a championship understand you must pace yourself throughout the year. Regardless of how great the team is or how easy it might seem to make it to the Finals, all of the best number ones know how to pace out their talents.
GREAT WITHOUT THE GREATS
Over the years, Harden has played with multiple great players such as Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, and Russell Westbrook. Not only did none of these players work out in Houston, but seemed to play even better or just as good on a different team. Even though any player can have a down season and not play as well with others, there seems to be a pattern. With any great number one player, they make it work at times no matter who is on the team. As Harden is now the second or third-best player on the Nets, it’s apparent, he should have never been built around and considered a number one on the Rockets.