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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta claims when James Harden ‘wants to play defense, there is nobody any better’

Rockets, Tilman Fertitta, James Harden

Tilman Fertitta had some interesting things to say about the defensive play of Houston Rockets All-Star James Harden during Tuesday’s episode of “First Take.” Critics have chastised The Beard’s defensive prowess in the past. Fertitta, however, believes the former No. 3 overall pick is better than anyone in the NBA on that end of the floor, at least when he wants to be:

“James Harden [was] the best post defender in the league last year,” Fertitta said. “Just look at the statistics. When he wants to play defense, there is nobody any better.”

These comments will surely draw plenty of chuckle from around the NBA. While Harden is a stellar post defender, it’s not like he’s doing a lot of defending down low. And while his 158 steals last year were second only to Paul George (170), there’s a lot more to defense than just these areas.

Harden, of course, put up prolific overall statistics. In 78 appearances with the Rockets last season (all starts), he racked up averages of 36.1 points on 44.2 percent shooting from the field (36.8 percent from beyond the arc), 7.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds and two steals in 36.8 minutes per outing. His 36.1 points per game were a career-high mark.

Harden enjoyed a fantastic 2018-19 campaign, especially on the offensive side of the ball. However, to say that he is a better defender than anyone in the league is a total stretch, even when he’s giving full effort.

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