James Harden seems excited for the changes in the Houston Rockets organization. Beyond moving on from Dwight Howard, the Rockets have also signed coach Mike D'Antoni, re-signed Harden (4 years, $118 million), and added Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.
In the offseason, everyone feels like a champion. And in the offseason, it's also easier to make promises. In a conversation with NBA.com, Harden implied the Rockets' changing roster and philosophy will bring him newfound defensive energy.
"Now with the more talent that's going to release some offensive pressure off me, I'm going to be able to go out there and play both ends of the floor at a high level," Harden said. "It's really difficult to go out there, play all 82 games, lead the league in minutes, and have to do everything offensively. I mean, no one else had that weight on their shoulders in the league. So like I said, it doesn't really bother me. I focus on what I gotta do and I just go out there and do it."
Harden stays with the excuses. In all fairness, he did lead the NBA in total minutes and minutes per game last year. He averaged 38.1, which would certainly be taxing on any player, but uhh, this is an example of his lapses from just one game:
Asked if he feels like he gets a bad rap for his defense (could he possibly say no?), the 26-year-old two guard answered in the affirmative.
"Yeah, yeah," Harden said. "But everybody makes mistakes. I can look up the same amount of plays for myself as the other top guys in the league. So I don't really worry, I don't focus on it."
Everybody does make mistakes, of course, but Harden has become notorious for his consistent laziness on the defensive end. Really bad defenders can change; we saw it with J.R. Smith this year.
Perhaps this will be the spark Harden needs to make a J.R.-esque conversion. Or maybe we'll see more of what we've come to know all too well...
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