After James Harden received much criticism after losing in the first round of the postseason three out of the last four seasons, the debate on how great of a player he actually is continues. However, during this offseason, the hiring of Mike D’antoni had concerned many fans, as Harden’s lackadaisical defensive effort combined with D’Antoni’s lack of defensive care might prove to be a dangerous combination.
Harden has been known to dribble too much and to not involve his teammates in past seasons; because of that, he was moved to point guard.
We all recognize Harden’s phenomenal talent. Yet many (myself included) have been critical of his playing style characterized by his lack of hustle, poor shot selection and little defensive effort. However, so far this season, he is putting a spin on that narrative.
Just 14 games in, Harden has been putting up MVP numbers, averaging 28.6 points, 12.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting 36.5% from three, 46% from the field and 81% from the line. Except for the assist average, all of those numbers resemble Harden. The highest assist average Harden ever had—7.5—was during last season. So maybe, this point guard gig is working.
The Rockets are currently 9-6 and place 5th in the Western Conference standings.
I believe the main reason for Harden’s resurgence has to do with the exit of Dwight Howard. He has been trouble in the locker room for almost every team he has played for, including Houston. The signing of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, along with having Trevor Ariza, allow the floor to be spaced and allow for Harden to be more creative and less selfish than in seasons past.
While the jury is still out on Harden, he is certainly making a strong case at this point in the season. I hope he continues to produce like this during the remainder of the season and in the playoffs.
Will he be remembered as the guy who did adidas commercials, had nice moves and never lived up to his full potential? Or will he be remembered as the superstar who led his team to victory?
About me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a 12th grader from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants and the Yankees. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN2. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).