James Harden’s image and career have been in a perpetual state of rehabilitation the past few years. From his derisive comments about teammates, to his inability to coexist with Dwight Howard, to his well-documented (if not over-exaggerated) defensive issues, the Beard hasn’t exactly endeared himself to a large portion of the basketball-watching public.
When things in Houston reached their nadir toward the end of last season as the Rockets failed spectacularly to live up to expectations, an organizational shakeup was not only inevitable – it was necessary. They didn’t even have to fire J.B. Bickerstaff. The fact that he resigned of his own volition was a sign of just how bad things had gotten. Howard, likewise, couldn’t wait to seek a new opportunity elsewhere.
Bringing in Mike D’Antoni as head coach was, understandably, met with a healthy amount of skepticism. The Rockets had struggled defensively, and D’Antoni’s frenetic “seven seconds or less” offensive philosophy had historically been synonymous with lackadaisical efforts on the other end of the floor.
So when he announced that Harden would take over as point guard on a full-time basis this season, it felt like confirmation that the Rockets were fully embracing the rather dubious and problematic approach of simply trying to outscore their opponents.
So far, though, the joke’s been on us.