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Harden Admits: “I’m Not A Really Good Defender”

It’s been a so-so summer for James Harden. He helped lead a dominant USA Basketball team to a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup in Spain. But he also had to re-live Damian Lillard‘s series-clinching shot at the buzzer all summer long. There was more ribbing about his defense from peers and some bad sequences even at the World Cup, but he admitted during media day he sees the tweets GIFS and comments, and while he doesn’t pay attention, he does confess, “I’m not a really good defender.”

The second best part of Harden’s exchange with Fran Blinebury of NBA.com is Blinebury was the same reporter Harden called a “weirdo” when he was struggling during the Blazers series. The very best part is what James told him about his defense, which we agree with:

“I hear it,” Harden said at the annual Media Day gathering on Monday. “I don’t pay attention to it. I’m not a really good defender. At times I can be really bad.

“A lot of stars, their defense is bad. That’s a category I know I have to get better at. For us to go and reach our potential, that’s something that has to be done. That’s one of the things I’m excited about this season. I have no choice.”

Blinebury didn’t shy away from the other big story about Harden this summer, either. Harden claimed – twice in fact — he was the best overall player in the NBA today.

“I wasn’t saying that to be cocky,” Harden said. “I’ve just put such hard work and effort into my craft. Obviously we know there’s a lot of great talent out there in this league.”

When Blinebury suggested Harden had deliberately set the bar so high for himself as motivation, James agreed, but continued to say he needs to be better at both ends.

“Probably, to play the way I know I can play. My teammates know I can play. Like I said, I got to get better at both ends. It’s just me focusing on all possessions. Being able to concentrate on small things.”

Coach Kevin McHale agrees. “We talked about all that. We’ve constantly been challenging James to take on challenges,” McHale told NBA.com. “He knows he’s got to improve in areas. We asked him to do a lot last year. We’ll ask him to do a lot this year. There’s a lot of offensive pressure on him to deliver every night, but you still got to go out there and play the other side of the ball.”

Better than this, at least:

(NBA.com; GIFs via SB Nation)

Will Harden get better at defense next year?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

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