Rockets‘ guard James Harden is average career highs all across the board this season with 36.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 86.1 from the free-throw line per game through 43 games for Houston.
Over the last couple of years, Harden has received a lot of criticism from fans and NBA insiders due to his style of play and antics on the floor. However, James’ former teammate Kevin Durant doesn’t see it that way, he thinks the 2017-18 MVP is playing within the rules.
Per ESPN.com’s Nick Friedell, Via Bleacher Report, last summer Durant said Harden is “not cheating the game” because “he’s playing within the rules of the game” and is exploiting the rules to his advantage:
“I think everybody, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try to get their shots off. I don’t think he’s any different.
“He may bump guys off going to the rim, but everybody does that. I wouldn’t say that he’s found a way to cheat the rules. I wouldn’t say that. I just think that he has his style of play. It might not be what everybody likes to see, but it’s been effective. And I don’t think he’s been cheating the game at all.”
KD [Kevin Durant] also noted the officials “aren’t going to be perfect all game” and rather than constant talk of calls or non-calls, focus on “how great all of these players are on the court.”
Back in November of 2018, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Michael C. Wright reported that players and coaches also weighed in on James Harden’s ability to draw fouls from officials.
“He flops on offense just like I flop on defense,” Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “He’s been in the league a long time, and he’s built that reputation. It’s hard to guard him knowing that, at any given moment, you can get called for a foul.”
Harden is just looking for a fair chance.
“I just want a fair chance,” Harden told reporters. “We all know what happened a couple years back with Kawhi [Leonard]. Call the game the way it’s supposed to be called, and we’ll live with the results.”
Allen Iverson on James Harden Playing style
Saturday night Allen Iverson was a guest on ESPN’s The Jump before the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Philadephia 76ers, and Rachel Nichols asked Iverson if he thought criticism of Harden’s playing style was warranted. ‘No way’, replied Iverson.
“No way. That man has so much talent. He’s so great. He deserves all the praise that he gets. There’s always going to be a critic out there. There’s always going to be somebody out there saying he could do something else better than what he’s doing. I think he just keeps his foot to the pedal. Because I know his teammates love having him in that foxhole and rocking with him a night in and night out. So, James, keep doing your thing, man.”
James Harden has the Houston Rockets currently sitting in 5th place in the Western Conference with a 28-16 record. The Rockets will face the Denver Nuggets later today on NBA TV.