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Thunder's James Harden has most to lose from NBA lockout, lost practice time

With the training and exhibition portions of the schedule axed, time is not on James Harden's side when it comes to earning a starting spot for the Thunder this season.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 9, 2011
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/articleid/3611964/1/pictures/1532667">Photo - OKLAHOMA CITY ARENA: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) warms up before game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
OKLAHOMA CITY ARENA: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) warms up before game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Brooks, however, has yet to declare Harden the winner of the starting job. For all we know, Brooks' plan for Harden may just be keeping him in the sixth man role as a way to always have scoring punch he can rely on off the bench.

But based on what we know about Brooks, the lockout might be making the decision for him. The Thunder, like every other team, lost nearly a month of practice time. That time would have been integral in integrating new players and new lineups. The loss of Oklahoma City's seven-game preseason schedule, meanwhile, killed the opportunity to iron out the kinks in dress rehearsals.

Now, when the season starts, it seems likely Brooks will revert to his comfort zone. In a shortened camp and an abbreviated preseason, the coach might again reach for that consistency and continuity.

It'd be a completely rational decision and one that doesn't have to stick for an entire season. Nevertheless, it's Sefolosha who now seems destined to be penciled in as the starter on opening night.

And that would have everything to do with the lockout and little to do with Harden.

By the numbers

A look at how James Harden progressed last season.

SPLIT

G

PPG

RPG

APG

TPG

SPG

MPG

FG%

3PT%

FT%

Pre All-Star

54

10.3

3.3

2.0

1.2

1.1

25.4

41.3

36.1

82.9

Post All-Star

28

15.8

2.8

2.4

1.4

1.2

28.3

46.5

33.3

86.5

Playoffs

17

13.0

5.4

3.6

1.64

1.2

31.6

47.5

30.3

82.5

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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