Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni Calls James Harden ‘Best Offensive Player I’ve Ever Seen’

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni stands with James Harden (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. The Celtics won 99-98. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Houston Rockets star James Harden may be on the verge of winning his first NBA MVP award this season, but his coach chooses to look at the bigger picture when talking about the player. 

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has spent more than four decades in the NBA, seeing a lot of talent during his that time. Nobody stands out more to him on the offensive end than Harden, per Sam Amick of USA Today Sports:

“That’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen. They were running guys to him, and he just steps a little further back and hits a three. You know, the way he can pass and see the floor, get fouls, layups, floaters, maybe a lob, maybe out to the corner, he has so many weapons, and now he’s shooting those stepback threes, it’s impossible to guard him. It’s impossible.”

A six-time All-Star, this has been Harden’s best season to date. He has a comfortable lead for the league’s scoring crown at 31.2 points per game, ranks third with 8.7 assists per game, fourth in efficiency (30.8) and adds 5.2 rebounds. 

Behind his strong individual campaign and the addition of Chris Paul, Houston (57-14) has the best record in the NBA.

Of course, any coach is going to hype up his players when they can. D’Antoni himself has coached Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, and yes, Kobe Bryant. But he also has Harden in his prime right now—and he is a big fan.

“He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni added, per Amick. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.”

There’s no denying that Harden is one of the greatest offensive playmakers in the league today. However, when talking from a historical perspective in the NBA, any argument always comes back to rings. If Harden can lead the Rockets to a championship this season, some of the skeptics may start to buy into what D’Antoni is saying.