The Oklahoma City Thunder managed to find something that could match the hysteria of the Dwight Howard saga today after they dealt guard James Harden to the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard/forward Kevin Martin, point guard Jeremy Lamb, two future first round picks and a future second round pick.
The not-so-significant departures from the Thunder are center Cole Aldrich, guard Daequan Cook and forward Lazar Hayward.
Harden is a very proven player as he has been a huge part of the Thunder’s success along with superstars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
He has the recipient of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 2012 and a selection to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2010 to list his recognitions in the NBA.
In his NCAA career he made the Consensus All-American First Team in 2009, was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009, and is a two-time selection to the All-Pac-10 First Team in the years of 2008 and 2009 as a part of the Arizona State University Sun Devils.
Harden also has international recognition as he was a member of the US Olympic team that won the gold medal this past summer in London.
Aside from the big loss that Thunder felt from this deal, I still think they are the clear winners in the deal.
The received Martin who has proven to be a very good scorer and when his Rockets stats are compared to those of Harden’s on the Thunder, they are very similar.
I feel like it is a must to use his stats from his Houston days because when he played there, he was accompanied by all-star caliber players in forward Luis Scola and guard Kyle Lowry unlike his time on the Sacramento Kings where he was the primary scorer.
For example, last year in 31.6 minutes per game, Martin was able to put up 17.1 points compared to Harden’s 16.3 points per game in 31.5 minutes.
The addition of Jeremy Lamb is the thing that, in my eyes, lifts the Thunder over the Rockets in this deal. Lamb is a great player during his college career and I am sure he will continue to showcase his talents as a professional player.
He will be a great addition to the bench and if coach Scott Brooks decides to start Martin, the Thunder will see a big addition to the depth of their team, as Thabo Sefelosha will move over to the bench. If Brooks doesn’t decide to start Martin, the bench will have even greater depth with a pure scorer like Martin in the second unit.
Harden’s impact on the Rockets will not be as great as the one he put on the Thunder. Harden is not someone who I think can be primary scorer but more of someone who needs superstars around him.
In Houston, he will be greeted with an environment that has two good players in Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. I feel that Durant and Westbrook made Harden looks much better than he actually is.
Oklahoma City made the right deal at the right time as Harden refused to sign a 4-year, 56 million dollar extension deal from the Thunder organization.
Some questions remain unanswered such as the question of Lamb being successful in the NBA but apart from that, I think the Thunder will be just as good, if not better than they were last year.
Don’t agree with me? All I’m going to say is time will tell.