Corey Brewer: James Harden will actually play defense this season
James Harden’s, shall we say, lackadaisical effort on the defensive end has been the subject of ire in the NBA community for many years now. But Houston Rockets teammate Corey Brewer thinks Harden will soon be on his way towards putting that stigma behind him.
In a recent appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation, Brewer claimed that the four-time All-Star will play better defense in 2016-17.
“I think this year he’s going to play better defense,” Brewer said. “We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”
The protagonist of many an ignominious highlight reel on YouTube, Harden’s junk defense has been one of the driving forces behind Houston’s failure to remain in consistent, legitimate playoff contention despite an enormously talented roster. But while his defensive apathy is far from excusable, it becomes a bit more understandable when you factor in the monumental load Harden is tasked with on offense (his 32.2 percent usage rate was third in the league amongst qualified players last season, per ESPN).
Still, it’s hard to envision much changing with the Rockets bringing in more strong scorer/weak defender-types this offseason in Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson to play next to Harden. It’s even more so with the team hiring an offense-first head coach in Mike D’Antoni, whose teams have consistently scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of defensive efficiency. In spite of Brewer’s best intentions, the idea of a focused, rejuvenated Harden on the defensive end this coming season probably falls into the category of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
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