There’s a saying in sports people like to use. The film doesn’t lie. And when we look at the film, James Harden may have significantly miscalculated his entire offseason and future.
The Los Angeles Clippers have lost five straight contests, with Harden featuring in the last four. The guard effectively made this play for a trade to LA in part because he believed he was still a superstar and potentially the missing piece for this team becoming a title contender. And while the Clippers are certainly still capable of winning a championship, this is going to take more time than people may have expected. Harden has been a combined -67 in four games, including a -28 in Sunday’s loss to Memphis. That isn’t good enough, especially for a player who is on an expiring deal hoping to land a max extension he didn’t get from his previous team.
That previous team, the Philadelphia 76ers, are absolutely rolling. The Sixers have rattled off eight straight wins and get a shot at the Boston Celtics on Wednesday of this week. Joel Embiid is playing like the reigning MVP and Tyrese Maxey has elevated himself into the superstar conversation as he looks for an extension of his own. The rotation pieces from the Harden trade have been integrated and are clearly buying in. All of a sudden, the 76ers look like they could be buyers at the trade deadline for a big fish. Would Pascal Siakam or DeMar DeRozan take them over the top? Daryl Morey must be ecstatic right now.
Another team with links to Harden and Morey appears to be figuring things out too. The Houston Rockets have won six in a row, and that rebuild appears to be ahead of schedule. The additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks have been positive, while Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun appear to have taken the leap. The Minnesota Timberwolves are also setting the tone early with wins over the Nuggets, Celtics and Warriors.
The New Orleans Pelicans have cooled off significantly after a nice start, losing five in a row. Zion Williamson has been in the mix, but CJ McCollum is out indefinitely with a collapsed lung and the depth pieces have not been able to make up for rotation players being out. If New Orleans doesn’t find a way to make up for McCollum’s production, Williamson and Brandon Ingram have shown they aren’t enough to make this team a playoff contender.
Here’s a look at the full power rankings after the third week.
NBA Power Rankings After Week 3
|Golden State Warriors||5||3|
|Los Angeles Lakers||6||10|
|New York Knicks||10||14|
|Los Angeles Clippers||14||4|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||16||21|
|New Orleans Pelicans||17||9|
|San Antonio Spurs||26||24|
|Portland Trail Blazers||28||29|