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‘Skinny’ James Harden could propel Rockets to NBA title, argues Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Rockets

The world was introduced to “Skinny” James Harden last week when the eight-time All-Star shooting guard for the Houston Rockets emerged from COVID-19 lockdown as a new man — or at least a scraggly looking man appearing to drop several pounds.

Now, according to Harden’s former teammate on the Oklahoma City Thunder, retired NBA center-turned-ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, the new “skinny” version of the 2017-18 league MVP could launch Houston’s title hopes in a restarted 2019-20 season.

“I’m happy to see that James was dedicated and used his time wisely during this pandemic and wasn’t hanging out with his good friends Lil Baby and Meek Mills [sic],” Perkins said of James Harden on ESPN’s The Jump on Friday.

“James is in the lab and going to be dangerous. You’re talking about a guy who’s one of the most prolific scorers … and he done lost weight and he’s dedicated? It’s going to be dangerous. It puts the Rockets up there as a heavy favorite to win the title if the season resumes.”

Perkins and Harden were teammates on the Thunder for one and half season, reaching the 2012 NBA Finals together alongside All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Since Harden’s departure from OKC though, the former Sixth Man of the Year has blossomed into an MVP — earning eight straight All-Star appearances and two league scoring titles. However, what has eluded Harden and the Rockets is an NBA title, only reaching the Western Conference Finals twice in the past seven postseasons.

According to Perkins, a slimmed-down version of the 6-foot-5 dynamic scoring guard could be enough to tilt this year’s playoffs in the Rockets’ favor.