MVP runner-up James Harden and his Houston Rockets side are 0-3 to start the new season. Yes, you read that right.
This inconsistent basketball side have overseen 20-point defeats to the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat respectively. The loss to the latter this past Sunday came after the team surrendered a 19-point Half-Time lead of their own. The collapse followed with Houston shooting 5-of-17 in the third quarter alongside an inexcusable seven turnovers.
James Harden has visibly struggled to get going. The so-called "best player in the league" (his words, not mine) has made just 12 of his 54 field goal attempts for the season and is in desperate need of a pick-up. His form from beyond the arc has also suffered considerably. Where he was once considered 'un-guardable' and able of knocking down a triple regardless of who was in his face, he has hit only 3-of-32 attempts thus far.
However, to be fair to the former OKC star, Head Coach Kevin McHale has had to put out three different line-ups already due to persisting injuries and new faces. While the franchise is still adjusting to starting point-guard Ty Lawson, star center Dwight Howard is still struggling to shake off a back problem. Nevertheless, these type of limitations shouldn't hinder Harden, especially given his aforementioned self-proclamations.
Harden is one of the best players in the league: fact. But amidst his team's struggles he is supposed be that player capable of taking control. The Rockets never lost three successive games last season and, ahead of a tough match-up against the Thunder, it could be four.
Despite the franchise making NBA history with three 20-point defeats on the bounce, McHale remains adamant that it has nothing to do with the form of their shooting-guard:
"It's not James. It has nothing to do with James. It has to do with our team. We're 0-3. That's about playing better on the defensive end when our shots aren't going"
If this franchise is to have any luck against a healthy Westbrook-Durant partnership in full throttle, Harden will need to pull out all the stops. Because in the end, at 0-3, Houston need a win and they need it fast.