The NBA: A Game Changer

James Harden is already being missed in Oklahoma City.
(image by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

We are almost two weeks into the new NBA season, and I still don’t like the fact that James Harden is not wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform.

This despite Harden’s new team, the Houston Rockets, being my all-time sentimental favorites.

I love the fact Harden will have an inside track to the All-Star Game as the Rockets’ new leading man, but I hate the fact the Thunder will have to make do with NOT having him.

Already, the Thunder aren’t doing as well as they did last season – well, at least the first five games last season.

Consider these numbers:

Win-Loss Record
Total Points Per Game
Bench Points Per Game
Team Efficiency (Diff.)
115.4 (+16.0)
116.0 (+11.0)
Bench Efficiency

*Statistics were taken from
**The Efficiency Difference (in parentheses) reflects the difference between OKC’s efficiency and its opponent’s.

The difference is pretty clear. In roughly the same period last year, with the exception of Team Efficiency, all other statistics went down. Even then, this doesn’t mean the current Thunder are “more efficient.” On the contrary, even if the current squad’s Team Efficiency rating is higher, it can be argued that they’re not playing better than last year’s team simply because the Team Efficiency Difference, which measures OKC’s efficiency against its opponents’, actually went down as well.

Essentially, what all these reflect is something utterly simple.

The Thunder are worse off because they let James Harden go. Okay, fine, I jumped the gun there with a hasty generalization, but the reality is this is a different team now. Harden was part of the big three for a reason. It’s the same reason he was on Team USA. It’s the same reason he was the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year.

James Harden is a game changer.

Too bad that right now he’s changing some other team’s game.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
Oklahoma City 97, Chicago 91
Kevin Durant scored 24 points and led a fourth- quarter surge that propelled the Oklahoma City Thunder to a hard-earned 97-91 win over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Held largely in check by Chicago's notoriously tough defense, the NBA's three- time defending scoring champion poured in 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting over the final 6:35 as the Thunder overcame a six-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to record its second consecutive victory. Six of those points occurred in the last minute of play. Serge Ibaka added 21 points and nine rebounds and Russell Westbrook tallied 16 points and 12 assists for an Oklahoma City squad that outscored the Bulls by a 31-19 margin in the fourth quarter. Luol Deng netted a game-high 27 points and Richard Hamilton finished with 20 for Chicago, but the Bulls shot 26.9 percent from the field over the final 12 minutes en route to their second loss in three tests on a current five-game homestand.

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant still form one of
the most high-powered tandems in the NBA,
(image by Jesse D. Garabrant/Getty Images)

LA Clippers 103, Portland 90
Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench and the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Portland Trail Blazers, 103-90, on Thursday night. DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul added 21 points apiece for the Clippers, who have won two in a row to improve to 4-2 on the young season. Jordan pulled down eight rebounds and Paul dished out six assists. Nicolas Batum ended with 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Blazers, who have dropped two straight. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge tallied 16 and 14 points, respectively.

Jamal Crawford continues to be a huge
difference-maker for the Clippers.
(image by Sam Forencich/Getty Images)
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