Mike D'Antoni: James Harden, Chris Paul, Rockets Won't Be Defined by Playoffs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2018

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shakes hands with Chris Paul after a foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said the backcourt tandem of James Harden and Chris Paul shouldn't be judged based solely on the team's postseason performance.

On Wednesday, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com provided comments from D'Antoni, who said the duo should be celebrated, regardless of whether the Rockets capture the NBA title this year.

"I read something the other day [that said] sure James Harden should be the MVP, sure Chris Paul and James have been great, sure they set a franchise record [for wins by] about six games' worth, but they'll ultimately be judged by if they win a championship or not," he said. "Really? It doesn't diminish what these guys have done."

Houston is 65-16 with one game left in the regular season. That's six games better than the Toronto Raptors for the best record in the NBA and 7.5 games ahead of the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.

Yet, the Warriors (-110) are still listed as the betting favorite heading into the playoffs, with the Rockets (+130) the current second choice, according to OddsShark.

D'Antoni said he doesn't buy into the concept that players should be judged by their number of championships because "there are a lot of guys that got rings that can't play a lick," per Youngmisuk.

"So how I celebrate is I enjoy every freaking day I go into the locker room with these guys and go on the court and all the games we've won and all the trips we've made back from games on the road back [as] winners, that's what's enjoyable," he said. "Now, obviously, we would love to celebrate it with a championship; everybody would."

Harden is enjoying another monster season to the tune of 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game through 72 appearances. He leads the league in player efficiency rating, per ESPN.com, and is the likely choice for the 2017-18 season's Most Valuable Player.

Meanwhile, Paul is averaging 18.6 points, 7.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds in his first season with Houston after spending the previous six years leading the Los Angeles Clippers.

Although those are each terrific statistical seasons that helped the Rockets run away from the field, how the duo performs in the playoffs will help shape the narrative in year one.