James Harden doesn’t play defense. This is a knock he’s carried ever since he left Oklahoma City to become the man for the Houston Rockets. He’s amazing offensively, the prototype for the modern NBA, but he doesn’t play defense. It’s not that people complain he is bad at it. They complain he doesn’t even try, and the one time he did, he almost won the MVP. However, his Rockets teammate Corey Brewer is confident that this year Harden will, in fact, play defense.
Brewer’s reasoning for his assertion? “This is the future Rockets, man,” he said. One could argue that the very fact that one of his teammates had to answer a question about whether or not he was going to play defense on national TV would motivate Harden to give at least a C+ effort. Nobody is asking Harden to bear down defensively, because he has to carry the offense and thus needs to conserve some energy on the court.
The presupposition that these are the “future Rockets” and therefore Harden will play defense doesn’t really hold water, though. These “future Rockets” are coached by Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni teams are a lot of fun. D’Antoni teams score a crazy number of points. D’Antoni teams are not known for their defensive prowess. In fact, the joke has been that Harden is going to score 50 points a game this year, but whoever he’s guarding will match him. Brewer may be confident, but we can be forgiven for not necessarily buying what he’s selling.