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What to expect from the James Harden – John Wall pairing in Houston


The 2021 season has started with a bang. Storylines of potential trades are shaking up the league and creating a number of exciting scenarios. All-Star guard James Harden has made it clear to the Houston Rockets he wants out, despite a favored pairing with John Wall that led to his trade.

James Harden Skips Rockets Training Camp

At the beginning of the season a media storm erupted when Harden missed the Rockets training camp for the upcoming 2021 season. It was reported that his absence was due to a break in the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, but combined with the trade request it was easy to think this was part of his plan to be traded out of Houston. According to league sources, even with the John Wall trade being executed Harden is strongly encouraging a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

After Wall’s first practice with his new team, the five-time All-Star said he had spoken with Harden since being traded to Houston. According to Wall, he and “The Beard” want to play together with the Rockets, and he “for sure” expects Harden to join the team in the coming days.
Among Wall’s comments:

“Me and James had a great talk since I’ve been traded here. We’ve been friends way before this. What’s going on right now, it’s because of the testing protocol, and things like that. We’re gonna figure out what’s the best decision when he wants to get here, and be here. We’ve been on the same page since I’ve been traded here.”


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What are the current expectations around John Wall starting at point guard for the Rockets?

Wall, 30, was the Washington Wizards #1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Playing 9 seasons in Washington, Wall averaged 19.0 points (43.3% FG) and 9.2 assists in 35.9 minutes per game. Combined with his size at 6 foot 4 inches, Wall when healthy was one of the league’s elite point guards.

The issue remains that Wall at 30 has been injury prone for the last few seasons. The last time he hit the hardwood, he visibly labored through 32 games displaying less explosiveness, and a tendency to settle for inefficient mid range jumpers. While Wall did deal with bone spurs that ended his season and led to surgery, it’s a bleak proposition to expect a 30 year old player who is following two surgeries to come back to previous form.
It will remain to be seen over the 2021 season how impactful and efficient John Wall can be.

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How is Wall projected to play alongside James Harden?

John Wall has been reported to be embracing a leadership role with the Rockets. His early comments that clearly were in the aims of being diffusing are a clear example of this effort. Forecasting the John Wall, James Harden pairing is a difficult task due to Wall’s injury history. If Wall comes back to near or full form, he is a crafty ball handler who creates openings for teammates, and finishes above the rim with ambidexterity. He comes with more patience and pass first savvy then his predecessor Russell Westbrook and could be a much more favorable partner to James Harden.

A Wall-Harden partnership could bring the Houston Rockets closer to an NBA title, but a healthy season from Wall and Harden staying in the organization will be required.

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