Smith: I'm "Skittish" About Harden; I Need To See It

James Harden has never led a team to the NBA Finals, and Sekou Smith wonders if he "might not be built for that moment"

Reiter Than You
April 24, 2019 - 7:11 am

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James Harden has made the All-Star Game (seven of them), he’s been All-NBA First Team (four times), he’s led the league in scoring (twice), he’s led the NBA in assists (once), he’s been Sixth Man of the Year, and he’s won an MVP.

But he hasn’t led a team to the Finals.

“That’s the only thing he hasn’t done,” NBA TV analyst Sekou Smith said on Reiter Than You. “That’s the last thing on his NBA bucket list is vanquishing the Warriors and getting a chance to play for a championship. So I would imagine it’s the most important thing to him, is to get that opportunity. But I don’t know how confident I am that he’s built for that. I need to see it.”

In 2012, Harden helped the Thunder to the NBA Finals. Only he didn’t do much once he got there. He averaged 12.4 points in the series, which Oklahoma City lost to Miami in five games. He finished in single digits three times and shot just 36.5 percent from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

“The last time I saw him on a championship stage, he melted down miserably,” Smith said. “Granted, he was a young player then. He was a young guy and they were in Miami, and I’m assuming that the Thunder thought that trio of he and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would be making repeated trips to the Finals, which of course never happened.”

Then there was Harden’s no-show against San Antonio in 2017. With the Rockets down 3-2 in the second round, Houston needed a big game from Harden, especially at home. He finished with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, as the Rockets lost 114-75. 

And, last year, the Rockets lost Game 7 to the Warriors in Houston. Harden scored 32 points but shot just 12-of-29 from the floor. Houston lost, 101-92.

“I’m skittish,” Smith said. “I’m a little nervous that he might not be built for that moment, so I need to see it.”

Click below to listen to Smith’s interview in its entirety.