James Harden is ready to put the drama from last year behind him
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James Harden is ready to put the drama from last year behind him

Expectations were high for James Harden and the Houston Rockets last season. Harden was fresh off a season in which he finished second in the MVP voting and led the Rockets to the Western Conference finals.

Houston was unable to build on that success.

Head coach Kevin McHale was fired 11 games into the schedule and the Rockets finished 41-41, 8th in the Western Conference.

Harden still put up the best numbers of his career — 29.0 points, 7.5 assists, 6.1 rebounds per game — but his defense regressed again while the help around him declined as well.

Next season promises to be different in Houston. Mike D’Antoni has been brought on as the new head coach and Dwight Howard is gone. D’Antoni is known for his “7 Seconds or Less” offense and Harden, being one of the most prolific attackers off the dribble, should be able to find a way to thrive in the new system.

Via Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

“So there is no indecision, no doubt in anybody’s mind,” Harden said. “Now we have to focus on how can we improve. Last year was very stressful for all of us there’s some new life here with coach [D’Antoni] coming in.

“This summer we want to build a strong team and go to bat every single night.”

Harden is committed to the Rockets long-term, signing an extension this summer. The franchise surrounded him with some new talent, adding Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon from the New Orleans Pelicans, as well as Nene, who spent the last four and a half years with Washington.

Houston has the talent to be much better than an 8-seed, but a lot of the burden with making sure that expectations are met lies with Harden.

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