Kobe Bryant on James Har­den's style: 'I'm not a fan of it in terms of win­ning cham­pi­onships'

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James Har­den is in the midst of one of the game’s all-time runs, hav­ing just com­pleted a Jan­uary where he av­er­aged 43.6 points per game and con­tin­ued a streak of 30-point per­for­mances into Fe­bru­ary to 26 straight.

Kobe Bryant is not i mpr essed.

OK, that’s not fair. Bryant’s im­pressed. He just doesn’t see the Rock­ets’style of bas­ket­ball as a path to a ti­tle.

Bryant: Rock­ets not on path to a cham­pi­onshi p

He delved into his take in an in­ter­view with ESPN’s Rachel Ni­chols while sit­ting along­side Hall of Famer Tracy McGr ady.

“I’m not a fan of it in terms of win­ning cham­pi­onships,” Bryant said of Har­den’s ball dom­i­nance. “I don’t think that style’s ever gonna win cham­pi­onships. But at the same time, you have to keep your team’s head above wa­ter to win games. You have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s do­ing that.”

That take com­ing from that player is sure to raise some chuck­les in NBA fan cir­cles. Bryant was one of the game’s great gun­ners, a shooter who al­ways shot his shot and didn’t hes­i­tate to take over the ball. He also did so in a con­sid­er­ably less ef­fi­cient man­ner than Har­den does.

Har­den vs. Bryant Har­den’s style of step­back 3s and liv­ing at the free-throw line may be dif­fi­cult to watch. But it’s also highly ef­fec­tive.

His ca­reer ef­fec­tive field goal per­cent­age of 52.4 per­cent is bet­ter than Bryant’s best sea­son when he logged a 50.4 ef­fec­tive field goal rate in 2012-13.

Sim­ply put, Har­den has done more with his shots over his ca­reer than Bryant ever did in a sin­gle sea­son.

But there’s one thing Bryant has to back up his talk that Har­den doesn’t – well, five to be ex­act. And that’s rings. Bryant has a plethora of cham­pi­onship ex­pe­ri­ence to speak from, bonafides that are dif­fi­cult to ar­gue with.

Bryant did an enor­mous amount of win­ning dur­ing his ca­reer, and it in­volved shar­ing the ball with a pair of star big men in Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Ga­sol.

While Har­den is an ef­fec­tive passer who will find the open man, ball move­ment has ground to a halt in Hous­ton dur­ing Har­den’s streak.

Rock­ets of­fense re­sem­bles game of one-onone

An al­ready iso­la­tion­heavy sys­tem has de­volved into Rock­ets play­ers mostly stand­ing around and watch­ing Har­den on of­fense. Dur­ing his run of 30-point games, Har­den went six straight with­out scor­ing an as­sisted bucket.

Bryant sees that as a for­mula for fail­ure in the play­offs.

“Not with this style of play, it won’t win,” Bryant said. “With one player dom­i­nat­ing the ball. … It’s easy to de­fend.”

Bryant: Har­den’s per­for­mance is ‘re­mark­able’

Bryant made sure to note that he ap­pre­ci­ates Har­den’s suc­cess.

“What he’s do­ing is ab­so­lutely re­mark­able,” Bryant said. “It’s a tes­ta­ment to how re­mark­able it is be­cause peo­ple are now try­ing to min­i­mize what it is he’s do­ing. He’s do­ing some phe­nom­e­nal stuff.”

The Rock­ets have done more win­ning than los­ing dur­ing Har­den’s scor­ing stretch that’s over­lapped in­juries to Eric Gor­don, Chris Paul and Clint Capela.

If the Rock­ets man­age to go into the play­offs healthy, it’s un­likely they’ll de­pend on the us­age rate Har­den has posted over the last sev­eral weeks. His ball dom­i­nance to this level is largely a prod­uct of need rather than de­sign.

If they’re forced to keep it up in the play­offs, it will likely be be­cause they feel they have to. And if that’s the case, Bryant’s anal­y­sis will likely ring true.

Kobe Bryant isn’t sold on the ball-dom­i­nant style of James Har­den

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