In the midst of another MVP-worthy season, James Harden continues to impress people around the league, including his head coach, Mike D’Antoni. As Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes, after the Rockets defeated the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, D’Antoni labeled Harden as “the best offensive player I’ve ever seen.”
Harden posted 42 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in the win, just the latest standout performance in a season filled with them. For D’Antoni, who has coached the likes of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony, Harden offers an all-around skill set that is unmatched.
“He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni said. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved. … He’s got one flaw. He does get tired some. He’s mortal. And that’s it. Other than that …”
Harden is averaging 31.2 PPG, 8.7 APG, and 5.2 RPG for the Rockets. After finishing as the runner-up to Russell Westbrook in MVP voting one season ago, Harden looks like the clear-cut favorite this year’s award.
Check out more news and notes out of the Rockets organization:
- Tyronn Lue took a leave from his coaching post with the Cavaliers due to health concerns, and D’Antoni understands how the rigors of the job can require someone to take a needed step back, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “Especially if you lose, you wonder what you could do differently. My first 20 years in coaching, even more, I couldn’t read books, for sure,” D’Antoni said. “I could read short articles, but I had a hard time escaping. I think I’ve gotten to a point I can read books and escape more than I used to. I try not to drive myself crazy.”
- Ryan Anderson has seen a lot of time at center since he returned from injury and the Rockets anticipate him continuing to play the position going forward, Feigen writes in a separate story. “We’ll look at all possibilities, but he’ll play some five for sure,” D’Antoni said. “Then, we’ll see. Matchups, maybe in the playoffs, will be different here and there, but right now we’re going to look at this.”
LeBron James will be a free agent this offseason and his decision figures to be the NBA’s story of the summer. The Rockets are one of several teams that have been linked to James, prompting Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report to examine how the Rockets can add the four-time MVP without sacrificing Chris Paul and other assets.