Throughout his career, Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been maligned for his defensive abilities. Entire YouTube videos have been put together showing some of Harden's horrendous defensive showings.
Granted, Harden has improved as a defender. The days of him simply giving up on defense are over. However, he is still nowhere near a lockdown defender. Surprisingly, some voters for the NBA All-Defensive team thought differently; Harden somehow received two First-Team votes:
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) May 22, 2019
This is definitely a head-scratcher. Most would argue that Harden is not even a top three defender on his team, much less in the league. Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela are all renowned defenders who didn't make the teams. Paul finished ahead of Harden in the guard votes, but still received one less first team vote than The Beard.
It is fair to say that Harden is now a decent defender. He is able to hold his own in the post with his size and length. Even though he still gets blown by on the perimeter, he has learned better defensive positioning and forces a good amount of turnovers.
The days of clips showing Harden's cringe-worthy defense are over. He is now part of a top 10 NBA defense. While it may not be pretty, he usually does a solid job. However, even with the improvement, an All-Defensive team appearance does not seem likely for the star.