“If he didn’t run into the Warriors one of those years, he might have a ring,” is what Jordan Poole said about James Harden’s tenure with the Houston Rockets to Monumental Sports reporter, Chase Hughes.
We know how impressive Harden was leading those Houston Rockets teams deep into the playoffs to ultimately lose to the Golden State Warriors. Harden was the Sixth Man for the Oklahoma City Thunder before he became the star in Houston, similar to Poole’s situation in Golden State to Washington.
Poole and Harden’s starts to their careers are very similar
Poole understands that he is in a similar position as Harden and can become a star. Harden’s scoring took a huge leap to almost 26 a game as a full-time starter. He was able to get the ultimate green light and helped lead the Rockets back to the playoffs after missing it the previous three seasons. Even though Poole wasn’t on those Warriors teams that Harden was going toe to toe with, he understands that it’s not easy beating a dynasty. The Rockets in 2017-18 had an even better record than the Warriors. Coincidentally, those Rockets teams also had Chris Paul, the player Poole was traded for.
When Harden was in OKC, he won the Sixth Man of the Year award while averaging close to 17 points per game in his final season with the franchise. Ultimately, the Thunder decided to deal Harden to the Rockets because they had to make a decision to pay either him or Serge Ibaka. Jordan Poole didn’t win the Sixth Man award while with the Warriors but helped the team win a championship and showed that he can perform on the big stage.
There is an expectation for Poole to have a breakout season and he is presumably expecting it as well. He is likely thinking about the opportunity to prove himself and looking at Harden’s success in Houston as a good measuring stick. Poole said he had a conversation with Harden last season about his new contract, as the former MVP commended him on getting his ring first, then the money.
Poole and Gafford could resemble Harden’s connection with another center
Kevin Garnett recently talked about how Poole can become the next Harden and how he expects him to break out with his new opportunity as the lead guy. Poole even addressed that he sees himself and Daniel Gafford in a pick-and-roll combo similar to the Harden/Clint Capela duo on those Rockets teams.
The combination of Poole’s creativity on offense with Gafford’s athleticism can make for crazy highlights, giving the DC fanbase some exciting moments and screentime on SportsCenter. Poole said he sent Gafford some of Gaff’s high school dunk reels and wants to have that connection with him.
Poole looks to make the same impact in Washington that Harden did in Houston. We don’t know if the Michigan product will win an MVP, ever average 36 points, put up 60-point triple-doubles, or lead the league in assists but he has the opportunity to show what he can do and if his comparison is Harden, that’s a good start.