Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has to be walking around with that “I told you so,” grin tonight.
The Houston Rockets opened the season on the road against the Detroit Pistons, and James Harden was ready to play. Harden had signed his monster five-year, $80 million contract extension just hours before the game.
“James Harden is a player we can build around, and continue to improve the team around his skills,” Morey said. “He’s an elite offensive player, a complete player. He can pass, shoot, attack the basket. Even though he’s a gold medalist, an Olympian and made the Finals, I still think he’s an underrated player. He’s absolutely someone who, when they see him step into the role of a star for the Houston Rockets, people are going to realize just how good he is.”
It’s a feeling many of us will never have, but it’s safe to assume $80 million on paper makes you feel really good.
So good, that Harden decided to prove all his doubters wrong in one night.
“He’s just a sixth man,” some said.
“He’s not worth $80 million!” others said.
Harden dominated the game from start to finish, showing he doesn’t need Kevin Durant, or Russell Westbrook casting a shadow in his path.
Harden finished with 37 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block.
According to ESPN State & Info, Harden is the first player in NBA history to have at least 30 points, and 12 assists, in his first game with a new team. Harden set career-highs tonight in minutes played, as well as assists, and field goals made.
It’s just one game, and Harden certainly will not average 37 points on a nightly basis, but if leadership was ever a doubt, he squashed that notion to a pulp.
Morey called Harden a “foundational” player, anyone dare to disagree?