Houston Rockets Rumors
Harden loved passing this preseason so much that D’Antoni expressed some concern about him not being aggressive enough with his own shooting. Still, D’Antoni foresees a transformation ahead for Harden. “Hopefully, he’ll double his number of assists, and he had seven or eight [7.5] last year,” D’Antoni said. “I hope he can average double that. He’s one of the best passers I’ve been around.”
When Harden, who couldn’t remember how many assists he had last season, was told about his coach’s projection, his eyes widened under those thick eyebrows. “S–t! That’s 14 assists, brother!” he said. Told it’s actually 15 assists, Harden began to chuckle. “Coach trippin’,” he said. “Coach trippin’.”
Houston was interested. So were Brooklyn and the New York Knicks. “I took less to come back here,” he said. “… I’m not taking this for granted. I was on a team where it was very bad. There are only four or five teams in the league with a realistic chance to win this year, and I think we’re one of them. I’m not taking this for granted. I know if I go somewhere else, I might not ever be on a team like this again. A lot of people go their whole career and never play on a team like this.”
After all of the points he has scored (11,262 in seven seasons), we know he doesn’t necessarily burst into a sunbeam after a basket or a pair of free throws. Perhaps it’s because what makes Harden happier is helping his teammates score. He’s about to do more of that than anyone has ever seen. “You see the joy in my teammates getting shots and making shots,” Harden recently told Bleacher Report. “They’re comfortable. Everybody’s happy. When they’re happy, I’m happy. It’s a different vibe. We’re sacrificing for each other. That’s where we are. We’ve got a long way to go, but for now it feels good.”
“Faith” is the word both used to describe their relationship—faith in Harden to be more amazing than ever by being more inclusive than ever. “He’s a lot better than even what I thought, and I thought that was a lot,” D’Antoni said. “He’s one of the best pick-and-roll guys I’ve seen. He’s a terrific passer, not just a good one. He’s a terrific passer.” Even more important is the desire to pass. “He has a willingness and a want to,” D’Antoni said.