James Harden was recently traded to the Clippers and so far they are 0-3 in his tenure. Harden's fit with Los Angeles has been odd so far and they've been very disappointing considering their championship expectations. Are the Clippers going to be able to contend or did the James Harden trade close their window?
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Clippers Added More Talent
On paper, the Clippers were able to add another star offensive talent. Adding a player who just averaged 20 points and 10 assists is a major plus. Harden's facilitation ability along with his scoring gives the Clippers as much talent as anyone in the league, however, he doesn't exactly fit perfectly.
When the Clippers brought in Russell Westbrook last year, the same discussion was had. Kawhi and Paul George were the first two options, and how Westbrook would be able to play off-ball and effectively facilitate was questioned. However, Westbrook fit in. He found a good secondary role for him averaging low double digits and around six assists. Westbrook was able to provide exactly what the Clippers needed.
Adding James Harden to the mix shakes up the whole balance again. Harden is a player who needs to ball to make an impact on the game. He's a fantastic facilitator as well. But with a team with Kawhi, Paul George, and Westbrook his usage does have a ceiling. Figuring out the perfect balance will take a few weeks, but if it clicks, the Clippers have a very promising team.
Ultimately Comes Down To Health
The Clippers are infamous for load managing, and they must be able to stay healthy this year. As mentioned adding Harden is going to be a project, but the only way they can figure it out is by playing games and improving chemistry. The last thing the Clippers can afford is to have their stars miss games and have their chemistry become questionable entering the playoffs.
James could be great by elevating the role players with his passing. Harden is very skilled at creating open shots for his team. He could also set Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with favorable looks just like he did with the 76ers. Harden's facilitation was a big component to helping Joel Embiid elevate his game as well.
James Harden ultimately gives the Clippers a much higher ceiling with his elite facilitating and secondary scoring ability, but only time will tell if he can fit with Los Angeles and help them win a championship.
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