James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not travel to Orlando with the Houston Rockets but stayed back for unknown reasons. It was revealed on July 13 that Westbrook had tested positive for COVID. This led to speculation that Harden’s absence from the bubble is because he had come into contact with Westbrook. The NBA hasn’t announced Harden to have tested positive and neither has Harden addressed it.
A lot of rumors are floating about Harden’s health and when he will join the NBA bubble. There has been some clarity on that situation, courtesy of Shams Charania of The Athletic.
A source tells our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania that Rockets star James Harden is feeling fine, working out and may travel with Russell Westbrook to Orlando when Westbrook clears from coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/O8CsLBxGJK
— Stadium (@Stadium) July 14, 2020
Harden’s decision to stay back until Westbrook is healthy is a responsible one. Even if he may not have tested positive, he could have come into contact with Westbrook. It is safer for him to stay away from the bubble until Russ is in the clear for sure. The fact that both players are feeling healthy is a good sign, and everyone will be waiting for their arrival in the bubble. The Rockets have the fourth-best odds to win the NBA title behind the two LA teams and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Importance ofJames Harden to the Rockets
Harden runs the Houston offense and the team would collapse offensively without him. Adding Westbrook to the team gives the team a multi-faceted offense in which Westbrook can drive to the basket, while Harden makes shots from the three-point line. Harden is averaging 34.4 points a game this season on 43.5% shooting from the field and 35.2% from the three. He is on track to win his third consecutive NBA scoring title.
Harden is often criticized for not showing up in the playoffs, with multiple poor performances to his name. He hasn’t seen the NBA Finals ever since his days in Oklahoma City. The small-ball Rockets might be the most exciting team in the bubble, and they will be relying on their two stars to lead them to a title.