James Harden on Warriors: ‘There’s only one basketball’

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Consider Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden an optimist. Freshly made a very rich man, thanks to a new contract extension (details here), Harden isn’t too concerned about the Golden State Warriors having acquired his old running mate, Kevin Durant.

After saying he’s focusing on the Rockets, Harden made an eyebrow-raising remark about why he’s not concerned about the Warriors.

“Obviously the Warriors are a good team…But there’s only one basketball. We’ve got to figure it out,” Harden said, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN during the press conference to announce his deal.

On one hand, he’s technically correct. There is only one basketball to go around, and the Warriors can put five excellent shooters on the court at the same time now with Durant in the starting lineup, should coach Steve Kerr choose to do so.

On the other hand, it’s not like the Warriors have had any trouble at all satisfying their already-loaded lineup with touches. That offense is predicated on movement, and nobody is selfish — unlike Harden, who tends to dominate the ball sometimes without even realizing he’s doing it.

Also, the Warriors play defense, which leads to fast-break opportunities. Harden, on the other hand, is allergic to any form of defense that requires him to move his feet or sacrifice his body in any way, shape or form (proof here).

The Warriors also do a serviceable job of limiting turnovers most nights, especially considering the fast pace of play they’re always utilizing. Harden, on the other hand, just broke an NBA record for most turnovers in a single season this past year.

So, while there’s only one basketball, Harden should be worried. Very worried. So should the rest of the NBA. The Warriors are now armed with as potent an offensive lineup as we’ve seen in a long, long time. And that one ball is going to be moving awfully quick on a regular basis, mostly ending up in the bottom of the bucket.