Former Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale has an interesting take on his time coaching James Harden offensively.
“You know, when we first got him from Oklahoma City, he was actually pretty easy to coach really,” McHale told Heavy. “He came from being the third option in Oklahoma City with (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant being ahead of him. He came in and we put in a couple of sets he liked that they ran there for him. He came off screens. He got off the ball. Never was a great lane runner. Never threw the ball ahead a lot. But he did more little things back then. Like he would set screens, come off screens, stuff like that.
“But as he started playing better, it became harder. He wanted the ball in his hands, he didn’t want to come off actions, he just started becoming more one-dimensional. ‘Give me the ball, put a 1-4 flat or give me a pick and roll, and just let me make every decision.’
“My feeling was and always has been that type of offense works in the regular season, but against good teams, they can take away something. It’s hard for them to take away two or three different things, but they can take away something. I said it about Phoenix when Steve Nash was there; it works great in the regular season, but when they can load up defensively and do different stuff, you have to have different prongs to your offense. So it became harder to get James to do a lot of the little things.
“I mean, if you watch Steph Curry, look at him set screens and look at the separation he gets when he sets a screen and just sprints out of it. Look at him coming off actions. He does that, and everybody gets open because of it. That became more of a problem with James.”