As dominant of a scorer as he is, some feel that Harden is not even a top five player in the NBA because of his defensive deficiencies, but Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is tired of hearing the criticisms of Harden on that end of the floor:
“Every once in a while he'll take a play off and they'll zoom in,” said D'Antoni, according to Salman Ali of ESPN. “You can do that for every player in the NBA if you wanted to – its just the narrative that you want to make.”
D'Antoni then went on to praise Harden's post defense:
“He's the number one post defender in the league,” added D'Antoni, per Ali. “What else is he supposed to do? He's number 1 – not 2, not 3, not 4….”
The 67-year-old then stopped and laughed, saying he wasn't entirely sure about that number:
“Don't fact check me. Might gotten a little carried away with it. I heard he's number one. That's the analytic people. That's not me.”
D'Antoni also said that Harden's defense is “underrated.”
One thing is for sure: lately, people are paying a lot less attention to Harden's defense due to his ridiculous offensive explosion. Over his last three games, Harden has scored 163 points, racking up 57, 58 and 48 points, respectively.
The 29-year-old is also averaging 44.4 points per game in January and is registering 35.7 points per game for the season.