With the NBA season set to resume at the end of July, and the impact of COVID-19 on NBA teams becoming clearer, it’s time to analyze the chances each team has at making a run at a championship.
This week on The Jump, Paul Pierce mentioned the Rockets as a dark horse championship contender heading into the playoffs, given the capabilities of their stars, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
“I think they’re one of the biggest wildcards, and I’ll tell you why,” he claimed. “I mean, when you got MVP caliber players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, there’s only one [other] team in the Western Conference that can say that… So, when you’ve got that type of talent on one team, regardless of your role players, if you’ve got guys who can get hot on any given night, you know they’re such a wildcard.”
Jump host Rachel Nichols specifically asked Paul and Brian Windhorst about Harden, and how this long layoff could impact him. Paul believes that the break will put Harden back at the top of his game and the league.
“I think it’s really going to benefit him greatly. I mean, you talk about a guy like you said, he’s up there in usage rates, he’s been up there, in the last few years, at the top in minutes per game, and you’ve got to remember he leads the league in free-throw attempts every year. So he’s taking a pounding each and every night. And so, with this long layoff, with him getting his body fit, dropping the pounds, getting this rest, I see it really, really benefitting him in the long run.”
Watch The Truth, Windhorst and Nichols discuss the Rockets below, and watch The Jump weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.