Chris Paul Should Not Replace James Harden as Houston Rockets Leader

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LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES - MARCH 2: Chris Paul (R) of Los Angeles Clippers and James Harden (L) of Houston Rockets are seen during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, United States on March 2, 2017. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Following a massive blockbuster trade, Chris Paul went from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets. As the season approaches, the Rockets are best off keeping Harden as their primary playmaker.

Presumably the initial move was to have Chris Paul overtake any playmaking responsibility James Harden once had. Paul famously has been known as one of the league’s premier playmakers for a decade. After his arrival, Harden will then step up as a lethal, nifty scorer he is. As a result from the blockbuster trade, the idea circulated that James Harden could be stripped and demoted from his role as the team’s primary playmaker. He had both playmaking and scoring duties prior to Paul’s arrival, but now will he be replaced as the main facilitator?

Chris Paul Should Not Replace James Harden as Houston Rockets Leader

Throwing that idea out the window and going with a different approach will be be effective and beneficial; that is to have Harden as the point and the main scoring option. James Harden just had the best season of his career as a point guard and statistically above any season Chris Paul has had. The MVP runner-up put up an amazing and eye-popping stat line of 29 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds. They better not take the ball out of this guy’s hands.

James Harden’s Historic 2016-17 Season

Harden is arguably better than Paul at this point in their careers, and he recently had one of the best seasons for a point guard ever in the regular season. His 2016-17 campaign was statistically superior than any season Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Oscar Robertson have had in the past. Diving into advanced metrics, Harden led the league in offensive win shares and regular win shares. He also placed in the top three in BPM and VORP. You couldn’t ask for a better offensive season; tremendous offensive success was reached at an individual and team level.

Also to put things in further perspective, Harden’s past season was his first year as a starting full-time point guard. He accomplished many great things in his new role. He had the MVP award within grasp and almost reached the Western Conference Finals – two accomplishments that Paul has failed to do in his entire career. Speaking statistically, Harden’s 2017 statline is superior than any past season of what Paul has had.

Making Sure Paul and Harden Fit Together

The problem with Chris Paul is he is 32 years old and will be playing in a offense where the coach likes to run a fast pace offense. Leave that work for a younger and better Harden as he demonstrated this season earlier. Harden is better off as the main facilitator and the main scorer rather than a downgraded three point shooting cog. A lethal combination of playmaking and scoring is what makes Harden dangerous. Losing less of one ability is just lessening your franchise player.

However, Paul can still be effective. Adjusting into a role as a backup option and occasionally a spot up shooter like Patrick Beverly previously did. This will be the first time Paul becomes a sidekick in his career if Houston relies on their already default franchise player. Chris Paul is only in Houston for one year, and there are no guarantees he may stay further in the future. The San Antonio Spurs will be knocking on his door. The first reason why Paul was added was to take the playmaking burden off Harden, but Harden had no problems running point. He led the league in assists for Pete’s sake.

Another perspective to dive into would be basketball struggles as Harden and Paul attempt to accommodate each other. Many doubt Houston as they will try to combine two ball dominant players in the offense. This is a basketball chemistry just waiting to be ruined and demoralized. If such road bumps occur then Houston will have a choice on who to have as their first option, and the viable choice is the one who’s been like that – Harden. A major adjustment and addition like this should take time and let its natural process feel itself out. Experiment with what works potentially and what doesn’t.

Chris Paul’s Future

Hypothetically, Paul’s tenure in Houston could be on a temporary basis and just play out the one year contract he is under. Paul from there will be finding suitable free agency options. San Antonio was rumored to land Chris Paul, which makes perfect sense since San Antonio has a history of signing veteran players.

Doubts occur if Paul would want to stay in Houston any longer. Heading to the home of grizzled veterans in San Antonio is a another reason to consider why we should doubt Paul staying in Houston, which is a perfect reason to have Harden as the team’s focal point in the present and the future.

 

Main Photo

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES – MARCH 2: Chris Paul (R) of Los Angeles Clippers and James Harden (L) of Houston Rockets are seen during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, United States on March 2, 2017.

(Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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