Wednesday was by all accounts a good day for James Harden. He signed a five year deal worth $80 million and then made his first start for his new team, the Houston Rockets. Harden–best known for his role as the top ‘sixth man’ in the league with his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder–scored 37 points and added 12 assists in what was easily the most impressive performance of the night.
Harden was acquired by the Rockets in a surprising trade just before the start of the regular season. He had started only six games in three years with Oklahoma City but appears to have quickly adapted to his new role on his new team. He worked well with another recent Rockets’ acquisition, former New York Knicks’ point guard Jeremy Lin, and displayed a playmaking component of this game that wasn’t evident while in OKC.
Harden was low key about his big night:
“I think I just wanted to get out there and play. All the talking and all the craziness that has been happening this last week — I just wanted to go out there and play basketball.”
he also made comment about his long dormant ability as a playmaker and facilitator:
“I just tried to score and create opportunities. Carlos Delfino came in hot. I just tried to get my bigs involved. A lot of different guys stepped up, and I think that’s how it’s going to be throughout this entire season.”
Jeremy Lin put up decent numbers as well with 12 points and 8 assists in his regular season debut with the Rockets as they defeated the Detroit Pistons on the road 105-96. The Rockets will play the Hawks in Atlanta on Friday night before returning home to take on the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday.
Despite Harden’s big night and the Rockets’ impressive showing they’re not getting a lot of love from NBA betting enthusiasts. At offshore sports book CarbonSports.ag they’re one of 15 of teams priced at 100/1 to win the NBA title–also priced at 100/1 is the league’s biggest train wreck, the Charlotte Bobcats. The Miami Heat remains the betting favorite to repeat as NBA champion (7/4) while the Los Angeles Lakers are still second choice at 2/1 despite an 0-2 start. Harden’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the third choice in the futures betting market at 3/2.