Storyline: D'Antoni-Harden Dynamic

17 rumors in this storyline

Since opening night against the Warriors, who began the season slowly on the defensive end, the Rockets have played relatively few defensive teams. To the Rockets, however, there is an answer for each defensive tactic, with success or failure in their hands, and usually in Harden’s. “Last year I thought he was unbelievable,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know what he is this year. He’s gone up another level.”

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James Harden: After Coach took the job, we immediately got on the phone — talking about what went wrong last season, talking about our roster, talking about changes we could make. Normal intro-type stuff. It was clear he was smart as hell about basketball, but laid back, too. He was asking questions and listening, instead of acting like he already knew everything. I liked his vibe right away. And then before we hung up, he stopped and just said straight up: “Honestly, we need you to be the point guard.”

James Harden: I knew our team was going to be able to fill it up, but a run-and-gun team? It didn’t seem like our style. We were going to have to work the shot clock a little longer to get better shots. Coach’s response surprised me. He didn’t get defensive. He wasn’t even mad. He just told me that I was missing his point. Forget the position, he said. Watching film wasn’t about trying to copy the Suns offense or even about point guard. It wasn’t about a position on the court at all. Coach was talking about sacrificing for something bigger than myself.

He knew Harden was talented. But coaches need to know more about their best players in order to trust them. “I’ve never seen him practice before; I’ve never seen how he is on the floor; I’ve never seen if he likes to play,” D’Antoni said. “I’ve never seen all the intangibles you have to have to win a championship, and he’s demonstrated that. He’s taking guys out to dinner; you don’t know that (beforehand). I like that he loves to play basketball, and that, to me, is a key to any great player — they have to, when they come to the gym, they can’t wait to play. And he has that.”

As much as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has praised the play of guard James Harden, he said a large part of the success goes back to before the season started when Harden quickly took to D’Antoni’s style and his role. “If he doesn’t buy in to how I would like to coach, then obviously we’re not made for each other,” D’Antoni said. “From day one, he’s embraced the point guard role. He’s done everything humanly possible to make us a good team and our record reflects that. That’s the whole key. Ownership, management, your star player – they have to buy in.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Calvin Watkins: Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said James Harden, who will now become the full-time point guard can be a different version of Steve Nash, who ran the up-tempo seven seconds or less offense in Phoenix. “Sometimes he will be (slower) sometimes he’ll be a faster version,” D’Antoni said. “Steve is not like your traditional jet. Steve had his pace and Jeremy Lin had his pace and guys had their pace and all the point guards I ever coached had their way of doing it and those are very good players. He’ll have his way. I don’t know if we’ll time him, ‘Ok, he’s fast or slow. It will be fast enough to score.”
1 year ago via ESPN

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday morning that shooting guard James Harden is changing positions. He’s becoming a full-time point guard. “With James you make a joke he’s a ‘points guard’ because he’s going to score some points,” D’Antoni said. Under the new up-tempo offense, D’Antoni has decided to put the ball in Harden’s hands more than last season, like a traditional point guard, to get opposing defenses off him in the half court. It should also allow Harden to become more of a playmaker.
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December 16, 2017 | 8:57 pm EST Update