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Mike D’Antoni on Kevin McHale’s comments about James Harden

mike d'antoni
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

In their first season together, James Harden and head coach Mike D’Antoni found immediate success with the Houston Rockets. With D’Antoni asking Harden to play point guard, he averaged a double-double while leading the Rockets to the third-best record in the Western Conference.

As Harden prepares for the 2017-18 NBA season with Chris Paul, his former head coach Kevin McHale believes he is ‘not a leader.’ With the 28-year-old responding to the comments, D’Antoni defended his player according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“All I can do is talk about my experience, and he’s been unbelievably great. Obviously I got Coach of the Year last year because of him and the other 10 guys on the team. He’s been great with everything I asked. I asked a lot of him last year. I asked him to be the point guard, I asked him to talk in D, I asked a lot of things and he responded great. We had great chemistry. He’s the first one to get them all together in the summer time or take them out during the year to keep the team together. So I didn’t see it. He’s been great for me.”

After one season, it has been the perfect match for D’Antoni and Harden. Following stints with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, D’Antoni finally has a player who can effectively run his offense. As for Harden, being the team’s point guard has allowed him to control the game and lead his teammates.

Heading into the new season, the challenge will be implementing Chris Paul. While the Rockets feel Paul will help lessen the load for Harden, it will still take time for them to learn how to play with each other.