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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni knows James Harden will be ready

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 09: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets speaks with head coach Mike D'Antoni during a game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on November 09, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 09: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets speaks with head coach Mike D'Antoni during a game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on November 09, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has no doubts about James Harden being ready to play when the league resumes.

Following the 2012 trade that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets, The Beard ascended to be one of the best players in the league. Harden’s contributions are a big part of why the Rockets have yet to miss the playoffs during his eight seasons in the Space City, and he’s even drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan.

For as good as Harden had been under former Rockets coach Kevin McHale, his game elevated even more with the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, as the pair have been made for each other. D’Antoni won Coach of the Year during his first season with the Rockets in 2016-17, and Harden led the league in assists during that season.

Harden won the MVP during the following season and has led the league in scoring in each of the last two seasons, and has all but locked up the scoring title this season also. A big part of Harden’s success has been his commitment and dedication to getting better year after year.

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Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni knows James Harden will be ready

We’ve seen Harden constantly make use of his time away from the court, as he’s utilized each offseason to add a new wrinkle to his game. This includes the now famous stepback jumper he’s mastered, which even surprised Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who is one of the biggest fans of The Beard. Harden also added the one-legged 3-pointer prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, although he didn’t use it much.

Harden’s continued desire to improve upon his game is the main reason why Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t worried about The Beard coming back rusty from the NBA’s hiatus. D’Antoni was recently on KPRC’s Sports Sunday and stated, “I know he’ll be ready, he’s too competitive not to be.”

We’ve recently seen a much slimmer version of Harden of late, which has generally been viewed as a positive, and rightfully so. This could result in a quicker, faster, more explosive version of Harden, which would be even more terrorizing for defenses, as pointed out by Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers.

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But not everyone is in agreement with this belief, as NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe expressed concern over Harden’s new physique. But even Sharpe would have to agree with D’Antoni on one thing: Harden will be ready, because he’s too competitive not to be.

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