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James Harden reacts to criticism of Houston’s style of play

Rockets, James Harden

As part of a wide-ranging interview with GQ, Houston Rockets All-Star James Harden reacted to critics who say he plays too much isolation basketball.

Harden is one of the most prolific scorers that the NBA has ever known. At 35.3 points per game, he’s leading the league in scoring by a wide margin. An excellent ball handler, the former No. 3 overall pick can get to the rim with relative ease. He’s also a deadly marksman from the perimeter, which often leaves his teammates with open looks.

It was these facts and others that Harden mentioned when asked if his style of play limits the Rockets’ productivity.

GQ: What do you think of the criticism that your style of play limits your team’s productivity?

Harden: So you look at Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan…they ISO’d, right? Tim Duncan and Shaq were big men, so they ISO’d in the post. It’s the same thing as ISO’ing on the wing. The object is to draw a double team, create an opportunity for your teammates, and get them an open shot. Well, my ISO’s at the top of the floor. And now we get double teams, triple teams. And all different types of defenses to be able to try to guard us. Well, it’s the same thing. We’re at the top of the floor for the ISO, and I get a double team and I swing it, we get an open shot. When Tim Duncan posted up, they double-teamed him, he kicked it out, swing, open three to his teammate. “Oh, that’s good offense.” Well, it’s the same thing.

The Rockets (34-20) recently went all-in on small ball, trading Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team deal. The move left Houston without a traditional center, but the team has still managed to rack up wins over the Lakers and Celtics. However, the Rockets have also lost to the Jazz and Suns since the trade.

Let’s see how Harden and the Rockets fare as this season’s plays on.