James Harden is straight up one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Yes, he can go out there and get buckets with the best of them but when he is the one playing defense, some of those other great players look at him like it’s lunch time and they’re about to feast. It’s perhaps the main reason, despite finishing second in the league in scoring, that he was left off any of the All-NBA teams because his reputation as a one way player echos very loudly around the league. This summer has brought some change to the Rockets and according to Harden, it will create a change in his defense as well.


With Dwight Howard leaving and the Rockets adding Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, not too mention offensive minded coach, Mike D’Antoni, Harden feels things will be a little easier on him to where he can focus on a better overall game instead of just heavy on the offense and minutes played.

“Now with the more talent that’s going to release some offensive pressure off me, I’m going to be able to go out there and play both ends of the floor at a high level,” Harden said. “It’s really difficult to go out there, play all 82 games, lead the league in minutes, and have to do everything offensively. I mean, no one else had that weight on their shoulders in the league. So like I said, it doesn’t really bother me. I focus on what I gotta do and I just go out there and do it.”

What you just read there was a paragraph worth of excuses for why he didn’t play defense last year. There are quite a few superstar players in the league who play heavy minutes but still find a way to show just as much effort on the defensive end as they do on offense. Lebron, for example, does way more overall during a game than Harden does and you’ll never hear him have excuses as to why his defense was terrible.

Harden is very aware of the criticism he receives for being lazy on defense but says there other guys are just as bad at times.

“Yeah, yeah,” Harden said. “But everybody makes mistakes. I can look up the same amount of plays for myself as the other top guys in the league. So I don’t really worry, I don’t focus on it.”

Whatever you say James. In the meantime, we will expect more of this next year.