At Houston Rockets media day, James Harden sat down for his interview and predictably the discourse shifted to his defense. After a World Cup in which Harden asserted himself in a larger role, Harden still came under fire for a perceived lack of effort on the defensive end. Here's what Harden had to say on his goals to improve defensively in 2014-15:
James Harden: "At times, my defense was pretty bad." Excited to try and fix that. #Rockets— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) September 29, 2014
James Harden: "I have to be better. I have to be great on both ends." Said improving his defense is about better "focus."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) September 29, 2014
Until we see something on the court, it's all lip service, but it is at least good to hear that Harden is aware of the criticism and at least appears to be eager to change that reputation. Confirmation bias is strong enough that it will be a difficult reputation to shake, but with a renewed effort, Harden could make a huge difference in the Rockets' defense. With Omer Asik in New Orleans, the Rockets lack a serious shot-blocker outside of Dwight Howard, meaning that there will be even more asked of the guards to control the perimeter. If Harden continued his mediocre efforts of yesteryear, the team could give up a ton of points in 2014-15.