James Harden needs to grow up says ESPN's David Thorpe

staff reports Published: February 11, 2014
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photo - Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, is fouled by Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer, left, as Kevin Love also thwarts a scoring attempt in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Minneapolis. Harden scored 19 points. The Rockets won 107-89. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Houston Rockets' James Harden, center, is fouled by Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer, left, as Kevin Love also thwarts a scoring attempt in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Minneapolis. Harden scored 19 points. The Rockets won 107-89. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

David Thorpe, a basketball analyst for ESPN's Insider content, took it there - He compared James Harden to Carmelo Anthony.

It's not a compliment.

"With the exception of a healthy Dwyane Wade, Harden is regarded as the league's best shooting guard. Harden also is one of the top pure scorers in the game today at any position. But there's a darker side to Harden's game, one that does little to engender a team concept and ultimately just makes him look selfish. Because of that, the Houston Rockets and their fans are fair to ask whether Harden is beginning to resemble a player maligned as a selfish, ball-hogging player -- the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony."

Thorpe calls the former Thunder guard "a rare talent on a distinct path," citing that Harden was destined to take on the role of "The Man" that he now owns in Houston. Thorpe also gives credit to Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Oklahoma City.

"Presti has been criticized for trading Harden and breaking up his trio of star perimeter players, but the truth is, Presti had to do it," Thorpe said. "Harden now is proving he could do exactly what he always thought he could; meanwhile, OKC has gone 100-34 without him."

To Thorpe, it was a win-win for Houston and Oklahoma City. He goes on to compliment Harden as the heir to Kobe Bryant's title as the best "bad shot" maker in the game (tough, contested shots on drives and jumpers).

He then counters with the Carmelo comparison, citing Harden as a "complete ball stopper" of the Anthony mold.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel for Harden if he can "merge the old Harden" of his OKC days "with the new one," says Thorpe.

See this story on m.espn.go.com