Mike D’Antoni praises James Harden’s durability, likens him to Shawn Marion
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has praised James Harden’s admirable effort in plenty of instances this season, but he has also grown to appreciate his mettle and durability throughout an expansive 82-game regular season.
The Rockets guard has played in 63 of 67 games this season, all while battling plenty of injuries sustained through his 37.3 minutes per game, leading the league in usage rate.
“Shawn Marion was a little bit like that,” D’Antoni said of the player he once coached with the Phoenix Suns, according to Seerat Sohi of Yahoo Sports. “He could play big minutes and play forever. There are certain guys who do it. As they say, [Harden] is a fast healer. He could turn his ankle one day and the next day it looks like he didn’t turn it. James is durable. A lot of minutes. He’s 29. That’s probably not talked about enough, how he carries this load all the time.”
Marion was nowhere near the offensive catalyst that Harden is for this team, but he was an iron man under D’Antoni, missing only eight games through their five years together in Phoenix.
Like Harden, the man known as The Matrix wasn’t the fastest player, but rather economical in his transition from defense to offense, often pouncing on the right opportunity to take a ball coast-to-coast.
“I just love to hoop,” Harden said. “I just love to play basketball. This time won’t last forever. You know what I’m saying? So I embrace it. I enjoy the grind. I enjoy tired legs. I enjoy having to find ways.”
Besides having the best offensive player in the game, D’Antoni also boasts one of the most durable and competitive ones out there, making his job that much easier when it’s time to call his number.