The small snippets of basketball that we’ve seen from Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul and James Harden has been encouraging. It hasn’t been a large enough sample size to determine how their time together in Houston will pan out, and that’s why Paul is already trying to squash any unfair stigma about the pairing.
Both players have very high basketball IQ’s and know how to play well with others as Paul would like to remind the world. In fact, he spoke with The Vertical’s Michael Lee to point out to anyone who has watched NBA basketball the duo’s affinity for sharing the ball instead of hogging it.
“I hate to say this, but somebody who says that they obviously don’t watch enough. Somebody will say, ‘ball-dominant,’ but at the end of the day, you’re called on to do what your team needs you to do. If you’re a 3-point shooter, and the coach puts you in to shoot 3-pointers, are you going to say, ‘He’s just a 3-point shooter?’”
“The thing is, having the ability to have a guy who can create off the dribble and stuff like that is nice. And great.”
Chris Paul and James Harden have had heavy ball-handling duties for their teams, and both have finished at least one season with double-digit assist averages.
Paul’s best season of sharing the ball resulted in 11.6 assists and Harden with 11.2 assists per game. While Paul has been accused of pounding the ball too much, there is no question his ball-handling skill and court vision have been nothing but a compliment to any team he has played on. He remains atop career assists in the league and currently leads all players among those active on an NBA roster.
The same goes for Harden, even as a sixth man, it was instantly recognizable when he stepped on the court that not only his offensive prowess but his playmaking abilities were effective. He was so good at it that a debate once circulated on who the Thunder should trade between Harden and Russell Westbrook.
All they have to do is go out and prove that they made it work as Team USA teammates, and can now do it in the NBA for the Rockets.