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Rockets news: Mike D’Antoni looks to ease some burden off James Harden’s shoulders

james harden mike dantoni

The Houston Rockets have a new look with the addition of All-Star point guard Chris Paul in the backcourt. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that making such a move will inherently change a number of responsibilities that lie on the shoulders of last year’s MVP candidate James Harden.

Having an exceptional talent such as Paul calls for using his skills to help make the Rockets even more well-rounded, and that’s exactly what Coach Mike D’antoni plans to do, including reducing Harden’s minutes from 36.4 per game to roughly 35 minutes per game with less wear and tear. James Harden is open to the idea as well but D’antoni tells Johnathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that it’s all up to how things play out.

james harden

Sean M. Haffey/Houston Chronicle

“You probably have to ask James that. We can have really good plans and he gives me the death stare and guess what, he gets to play more. We’ll see. We’d like to in theory, but we want to do it by winning a lot of games. That’s how Golden State does it. Just don’t play the fourth quarter. That would be nice.”

“We got him down a minute-and-a-half last year (from the previous season’s average.) We’d like to get him down another minute and a half. But I don’t think it’s the minutes; it’s the responsibilities. If he’s playing 35 minutes and has to make every play or you can play 35 minutes and make half the plays, it’s a big difference.”

It helps to have another elite ball handler and playmaker share the same duties but Harden is more of a natural scorer, and there is enough help on the wings to keep Chris Paul’s playmaking abilities more than useful.

james harden, chris paul

Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle

In fact, a great year should be expected from Paul simply because Mike D’antoni’s offense always seems to pull the best out of his point guards and produce high-scoring offenses along the way.

James Harden should look to save his energy for more scoring than playmaking, however, he will manage to stick to his strengths, just not as much as before, and this time he may not run out of gas at the end of a tough playoff matchup.

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