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James Harden working on his defense, hoping to crack the starting lineup

Thunder guard James Harden wants to be in the starting lineup next season, but in order to do that he needs to improve his defense. He is playing in the summer league this year to do just that.
By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, Modified: July 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 5, 2010

Despite averaging 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists a year ago, Harden struggled at times being the fourth option behind Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green. To adjust, Harden said he's worked to incorporate more playmaking skills into his game so that he isn't solely a spot-up shooter. He wants to be more aggressive whenever he's on the court rather than being a passive player who pacifies too often.

Even as the most accomplished player on the Thunder's roster in Orlando, Harden had to remind himself to take over Monday. He scored just four points in the first half, missing all three of his shot attempts. In the second half, Harden scored 15 points by attacking and getting to the free throw line, where he made 11 of 12 from the line in the second half and 15 of 18 for the game.

"I think they all go through that growth spurt," said Thunder summer league coach Brian Keefe. "They need to play games and get better in practice. I've been very pleased with him and how hard he's practiced and his leadership qualities. He's going to keep improving with the way he's working."


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