James Harden has long had a reputation for being a weak player on defense, but that narrative is outdated.
Harden has been among the tougher defenders in the league in post-up situations the past few seasons, including this year. And he’s heard all the jokes about teams trying to target him on defense. He dares them to do so.
“Come try it, and the s— won’t work,” Harden told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
MacMahon wrote a long article about the Rockets’ defense and how Houston is able to play well on that side of the court despite having a small-ball lineup. The keys come down to their ability to constantly switch on screens, and the one overlooked part of their small-ball lineup: whatever they lack in height they make up for in strength and sturdiness.
Harden is muscular and has an extremely strong lower body, which makes it tough to push him around.
Taking shots at Harden over his defense remains in style, at least when it comes to Giannis Antetokounmpo. But the days of mocking him for his defense and making embarrassing compilation videos may be over.
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