With their loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, the LA Clippers dropped to 0-5 since acquiring James Harden, with six straight losses overall. The Clippers always knew that there was a risk when they traded for Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers, and the early returns are definitely cause for concern.
With five straight losses to begin the Harden era in LA, the Clippers look far from a title contender after acquiring the former MVP. Worse yet, their already established stars have played worse since he joined the team, proving that the adage “there’s only one basketball” is true.
While Harden’s arrival was always going to affect stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, as well as Russell Westbrook, Clippers fans hoped that he would make their lives easier, not make them play worse. In five games together, Kawhi and George are averaging just 18 and 20.6 points per game, respectively, while Westbrook and Harden are posting 12.8 and 15 points, respectively.
Are the Clippers in trouble after trading for James Harden?
After a rough start to his Clippers career, Harden himself admitted that it would take time for him to be integrated into their system. Considering that he was acquired after training camp and during the early part of the season, it’s fair to expect there to be a learning curve for Harden.
Still, the Clippers gave up a lot to acquire him and they can’t afford a prolonged losing streak while he figures out his new role. Its not all on Harden, however, Kawhi and George simply need to play better than they have.
With the Sixers rolling without Harden and MVP Joel Embiid appearing to take a parting shot at his former teammate, it seems they don’t miss him. That is not to say that the Clippers made a bad trade solely based on that but it probably doesn’t instill confidence.
The NBA season is now a few weeks old and trends are emerging, including which teams will dominate and which will struggle.
Especially since Harden is 34 and not known for taking care of his body, this raises concerns about how he will age. The early returns haven’t looked great but he may still prove useful and his play and how it affects Kawhi, George, and Westbrook will be something to watch for going forward.