|View single post by lobo316|
|Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2016 03:25 am||
|James Harden is as confident as ever.
He's thriving in his new role running the Houston Rockets' fourth-ranked offense as a "points guard" and is currently first in the league in assists and second in scoring.
Asked by Michael Lee of The Vertical who's the best player at his position, Harden responded:
"Best point guard or best player?"
"I am," the 27-year-old replied.
He's easily one of the best players when it comes to creating scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. He's averaging 31.6 points on a career-high true shooting percentage of 66.5 percent, while also contributing 12.7 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.
The veteran's put up robust numbers before, however. Despite the fact that nobody scored more points than him last year, Harden didn't make any of the three All-NBA teams because the Rockets were mediocre, squeaking into the playoffs at .500 and bowing out in the first round.
Team success also factors into the MVP race, so with all those aspects in mind, Harden's priority is to do whatever he can to ensure his squad racks up Ws.
"I just want to win. I don't really think about doing all that other stuff," he said.
The organization made some moves over the offseason in hopes of helping his cause. They added a head coach in Mike D'Antoni - who's known for crafting offenses centered on pace and ball movement - and players like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who can knock down shots off Harden's drive and kicks.
Related: D'Antoni excited to coach Harden: His game is 'just like, wow'
Seven games into 2016-17, the four-time All-Star's already noticing a difference in Houston's chemistry and offense.
"A lot more space. A lot more opportunity for me to get to the basket, for me to find guys," he said. "Previously, it was a little bit more crowded. You've got to respect our shooters and you've got to be able to find them and know where they are at all times, or you're going to pay for it."
There are two ends of the court, though, so in order for Harden to truly be considered the game's top player, he must be able to stop his opponents. Though he has the physical tools to be a good defender, that's long been the glaring weakness in his game. It's a challenge of mentality and effort that he's committed to overcome.
"Just being locked in," Harden said. "It's my job to go out there and play both ends of the floor at a high level. We're all going to make mistakes, but we have each other's backs and we compete."
Related: Harden promises improved defense: 'I'm more than capable'
The 4-3 Rockets are currently 27th in defensive efficiency. Fortunately, they have some time to get it together, and if Harden is as good as he says he is, he'll help make that happen.