Kevin McHale Discusses James Harden Moving to Point Guard

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2016

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in action during their game against the New York Knicks at the Toyota Center on October 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni has said James Harden will be his team's full-time point guard this season, but former Rockets boss Kevin McHale is still questioning the bearded superstar's floor general credentials. 

"James is a scorer, and at the end of the day, you do fall back on what you are. James is a scorer at heart," he said, according to ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins. "Can you change that? ... Can you be something that you're really not for an entire 82-game season? He's a great facilitator, great passer and he has great vision—he really is a scorer as a basketball player."

Although Harden hasn't embodied a traditional pass-first point guard over the course of his career, those kinds of players are a dying breed in today's NBA

Rather, primary playmakers who can score and distribute at elite rates such as Harden have emerged as some of the most coveted and unique players the league has to offer. 

To wit: Harden was the only player to average at least 29 points and seven assists last season. Extrapolated further, Harden and reigning MVP Stephen Curry were the only players to total at least 2,000 points and 500 dimes. 

And while Harden may not resemble a prototypical point guard at 6'5" and 220 pounds, he ranked sixth among all players last season in average points generated via assists (18). 

Assist Points Created (2015-16 Season)
PlayerAssist Points CreatedAssist to Pass %Avg. Passes Made
Rajon Rondo27.115.874.2
John Wall24.714.570.9
Russell Westbrook23.717.858.6
Chris Paul23.716.161.9
Ricky Rubio19.014.061.9
James Harden18.014.352.3
Source: NBA.com/Stats

Considering the Rockets touted the NBA's seventh-most efficient offense (108.3 points per 100 possessions) last season with Harden touching the ball a team-high 85.1 times per game, they should be in good shape now that D'Antoni is at the helm and shooters like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are in tow. 

And with the team poised to embrace a run-and-gun approach that will enable Harden to pile up numbers that reflect his abilities as a shot-maker and shot creator, he should be in line for a stellar year as the Rockets seek to rebound following an underwhelming 41-41 campaign. 


Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com

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