Asking him to play defense anything other than this side of “occasionally passable” would exhaust him by the mid-season mark
NBA Stock Market: Dr. Harden Mr. Westbrook

i agree with most things in this article… except this. i get that he’s got a huge offensive burden, but superstars are expected to bring it on both sides of the ball. paul george carried the pacers offensive burden last year (with the likes of ian mahinmi, lavoy allen, and solomon hill), and was a top 5 defender in the league. kawhi does the same, albeit with better offensive help. prime lebron did the same during his first cleveland stint. chris paul had to shoulder the entire offense creation burden last season with blake on the shelf, and his defense was great as always. jimmy butler was the primary scoring option in chicago last season and remained an elite defender.

im not saying harden has to be first team all-defense, but “occasionally passable” is too low of an expectation for a guy who (deservedly) thinks of himself as a MVP candidate and a top 5 player. he’s got to be league average defensively, or say Steph Curry level — not an elite defender but a good team defender who tries on that end. that’s not too much to ask. offense is the fun part, the easy part. harden needs to show he can buckle down and do the not fun part, if he really wants to be a leader.

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