Kobe Bryant knew James Harden was a problem

James Harden is averaging 35.3 points, 6.3 rebound and 6.3 assists per game to start the season.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

The Lakers were knocked out of the playoffs in May by the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.

Despite advancing to the NBA Finals, the Thunder have since traded guard James Harden to the Houston Rockets in a move that was more about the long-term economic state of the franchise than basketball.

A little more than a week into the season, the Thunder are 2-2 while the Rockets are slightly better at 2-1.

Harden has been a dynamic player for the Rockets, averaging 35.3 points a game on 52.9% shooting. He’s also averaging 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals.

Is Lakers guard Kobe Bryant surprised at how well Harden has played through three games?


“Not at all, not even a little,” said Bryant. “He was the biggest problem for us because he’s coming off the bench and his ability to facilitate, shoot, penetrate and get teams in foul trouble. We all knew what a great player he was. Now he has the ability to showcase it to everybody else.”

The Rockets signed Harden to a $78.6-million, five-year extension shortly after acquiring him. Harden was named the Western Conference player of the week on Monday.

The Lakers will host Houston on Nov. 18, but won’t see the Thunder until Dec. 7 in Oklahoma City.


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