James Harden was asked about his defense and Leslie Alexander defends his star player pic.twitter.com/OIypliI0CV
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 9, 2016
It’s no big secret that James Harden isn’t the NBA’s best defender. In fact, he’s been known to take a play or two(or three) off on that end of the court from time to time. Still, he does do it all for the Rockets offensively, so it’s possible to give him somewhat of a break for his subpar play on defense.
Harden was asked about his defensive performance during a press conference following his signing of a $118 million extension, and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander made sure to step in and defend his star player in front of the media, saying:
“Let me just chime in for a second. The guy played 42 minutes, 43 minutes a game. He had to carry the team offensively. There were guys who couldn’t shoot the ball many times, OK? He was it. Then they expected him to go and chase guys all over the court. There’s only so much a human being can do. You should see him after a game how tired he was. He’ll play really good defense this year because he has guys who can help him.”
Alexander certainly has a point, as Harden was asked to do everything last year and chose to save some his energy for the offensive end, which is what his team needed. Now he has Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and the coaching style of Mike D’Antoni joining him, which should help ease the load a little on the offensive end, so we will see if Alexander’s proclamation that he will improve defensively in the 2016-17 comes true or if we see more of the same.