James Harden is one of the premier players in the NBA today, that is just a fact.
Ever since his trade to Houston back in 2012, Harden has developed from a spark off the bench into an MVP candidate year-in and year-out. Last season he came second in MVP voting, only behind former teammate Russell Westbrook, as Harden averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists a game under new coach Mike D'Antoni, who moved Harden to the point guard position in hopes of changing Houston's offensive game.
But according to Harden's previous head coach in Houston, the Beard isn't all he's cracked up to be.
Kevin McHale is an NBA legend, and coached Harden from his arrival in Houston in 2012 all the way through to the 2015 NBA season. McHale has played with some of the very best leaders in NBA history, including Larry Bird in the 1980's, but during an appearance on NBA TV's Open Court, McHale was asked how Chris Paul's arrival in Houston will affect the Rockets, to which Kevin responded by throwing shade on James Harden and his lack of leadership in the locker room.
"I think it (adding Paul) makes them a much better team because you had James Harden with the ball, he’s fantastic with the ball - the guys got phenomenal vision, James can see all the passes and do everything but James is not a leader," McHale said, as transcribed by Rocketswire.com's Rahul Lal.
"He tried being a leader last year and doing that stuff, I think Chris Paul is going to help him do that stuff and get back to just hoop and play. On every team you need to have a voice, you have to have somebody that when he says something, everybody listens. Look, if James tells you ‘Chuck (Barkley), you’ve got to play better (defense).’ Are you going to listen to him? You’re kidding me. I lived through it, everybody in the locker room (shook their head)."
McHale seems pretty confident in his response, which is a telling sign that he may be speaking the truth. It's either that, or Kevin is holding a grudge after being fired from his position as head coach back in November of 2015 after a subpar start to the season for the Rockets.
Regardless, the ousting of McHale has done wonders for Harden's game, as D'Antoni has turned him into an elite offensive player with his fast-paced offense. Add onto that the addition of Chris Paul, and the Rockets are looking mighty scary in the West this season.