James Harden’s reputation hit a nadir last season. Tasked with leading the Rockets to championship contention, Harden stumbled out of the gate and failed to even move enough to stumble in dozens of Vines depicting his defensive futility. Harden recovered to post strong numbers, but the Rockets crumbled around him and he failed to make any of the all-NBA teams.
So, the Rockets constructed a new roster to showcase Harden’s offensive brilliance. In came offensive guru Mike D’Antoni and sharp-shooters like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. Out went the disgruntled Dwight Howard and a style of play that felt more like a mad science experiment than a cohesive unit.
Nobody is benefiting more than Harden.
He’s currently fourth in the league in scoring and first in assists, dishing out four and a half more helpers per game than he did last season. The Rockets have their flaws (*cough* Defense! *cough*), but they are in the thick of the race for home-court advantage in a tough Western Conference, despite playing a road-heavy early schedule.
More importantly, we’ve learned to fall in love with Harden again. He’s no longer just the guy who crashes into people and draws fouls. Now, he’s finally getting his due as an offensive genius capable of making any shot, pass, or decision. In a season of spectacular individual performances — including from his old teammate in Oklahoma City — Harden still finds a way to stand out.
In this video, we break down how D’Antoni’s offensive system enhances Harden’s prodigious offensive skill. With all that shooting and ingenuity on the floor, Harden is like a cheat code.