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