Trans. Sep 29 5:35 ET (Sep 29 5:35 ET ) HOUSTON (AP) -- James Harden was the target of plenty of criticism for his defense after the Houston Rockets were bounced from the playoffs in the first round last season on a last-second shot by Portland's Damian Lillard.
HOUSTON (AP) -- James Harden was the target of plenty of criticism for his defense after the Houston Rockets were bounced from the playoffs in the first round last season on a last-second shot by Portland's Damian Lillard.
The Scoop:Howard said that Harden was down about his play following the 2013-14 season, and he thinks that will motivate James to be even better this season. A video of Harden's atrocious defense went viral last year, so perhaps Harden is looking to step things up a bit on that end. However, from a fantasy perspective, whether he's playing that turnstile defense or not, he's an elite asset for his offensive prowess and worthy of a first round selection.
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Sports Illustrated . Rob Mahoney on how giving Eric Bledsoe a five-year, $70 million contract affords the Phoenix Suns both security and flexibility. PF : The Hook . Tom Ziller on what the Suns' decision to come off their initial four-year, $48 million offer says about the nature of the market in the NBA. SF : The Triangle . Zach Lowe on why footing a $14 million per year bill for Bledsoe was the right call for Phoenix: "Bledsoe could be something special, and teams that don’t get meetings with every superstar free agent have to take chances on guys with that kind of potential." SG : NetsDaily , twice . Reed Wallach with a two-part look at how an aged Kevin Garnett and a healthy Brook Lopez might fit together on both ends of the floor with the Brooklyn Nets this season under new head coach Lionel Hollins. (Not super sure about the whole "there's no reason why [Lopez] can't average more than 22 points per game" thing, though.) PG : The Hook, again . I really enjoyed Ziller's consideration of the potential virtues of building a roster around an elite one-way player (like James Harden) rather than a more well-rounded but lower-wattage two-way player (like Paul George): "When you're run by one-dimensionals, there's a well-defined path to the top of the mountain: fill your holes. When you feature a well-rounded star, you start further up the mountain, but there's no defined route to the top." 6th : Triangle Offense . Russ Bengtson celebrates Scottie Pippen's 49th birthday by detailing how the Hall of Famer wound up becoming his all-time favorite member of the Chicago Bulls: "Jordan’s flash got me into the game, but Pippen’s all-around brilliance really helped me understand it." 7th : CelticsHub . Brad Stevens has a message for anyone trying to predict the Boston Celtics' starting lineup, depth chart and rotations: "Put it down in pencil." 8th : SLAM . After making his first appearance in both the All-Star Game and the postseason, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall enters this season with his sights set quite a bit higher: "If I want to lead my team to the Finals, I have to be the best point guard in the Eastern Conference." 9th : Detroit Bad Boys . Stan Van Gundy's teams, especially his latter Orlando Magic squads, have tended toward bombing away from 3-point range. Might we see a similar offensive shift toward the perimeter from the Detroit Pistons in his first season at the helm in Motown? 10th : Sports Illustrated . Chris Ballard on the folks who still keep candles burning for the return of the NBA to Seattle, those who've let their flames flicker out over the years, and the SuperSonics-sized hole in the heart of the city. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
The Scoop:"I remember [Harden] in OKC," said Bowen. "In fairness to James, yes, [his defense] has been terrible, but what are the principles in Houston? I'm very disappointed in their team concept. That's what I don't see. So, if there are no rules and regulations, how do you hold anyone accountable? ... Go back to OKC and they're playing the Lakers, he guarded Kobe pretty well." That's an interesting take from the defensive-stalwart Bowen. Despite Harden's lackluster play on defense, his offensive prowess makes him a top-five asset in fantasy leagues.