Rockets GM Daryl Morey defends James Harden: “I know everyone’s disappointed, but he’s number one.


James Harden was unquestionably terrible in Game 6 for the Rockets. He shot 2-of-11, had 7 assists to 6 turnovers, was -28 on the night, and made just terrible decision after terrible decision.

It’s the kind of night that would send a guy to the strip club to try to forget everything. Which shouldn’t be that big a deal but is bad optics.

Friday at a press conference, GM Daryl Morey defended his MVP candidate, here’s the video with the money quote below.

“We’re not where we are, Game 5, people are down on him at the end of the game, well we’re down 10 without James. You know, yesterday, the guy hardest on James was James. Coach and I saw him briefly after, we wanted to give him some space, and we’re gonna meet with him longer shortly. But, you can imagine, all the blood, sweat, and tears he puts in…

“I know everyone’s disappointed, but he’s number one.”

This is what Morey and D’Antoni should do, defend their guy.

And they are not wrong. We give too much weight mentally to the most recent thing we’ve seen — like a judge on “Chopped” being swayed by the desert round. It’s called recency bias. Harden played his best basketball over the course of this season, lifted his team higher than anyone expected, now what the Rockets need to do is build on that and be able to execute it better in the postseason.

Next season the Rockets will sneak up on nobody, it will be a challenge just to tread water. Mike D’Antoni said the next step was to get better defensively (they were about the middle of the pack, 18th, in the NBA defensively this season), which is spot on. That means adding a defender or two to the roster. He also said that another year in the system should improve the offense as well, which should scare the league.

But after watching how flat the team was in Game 6, do they also need a veteran leader who would not tolerate that kind of performance, someone who would hold player to a higher standard? Or do they just need more guys with the Patrick Beverley mindset?