Thunder notebook: James Harden gets time at PG

Tony Mejia, Special Correspondent Published: July 11, 2009
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Russell Westbrook rested on Friday, giving the Thunder an opportunity to see what rookie James Harden could do in a point guard role.

Harden has gotten other opportunities to handle the point throughout the week, but saw his most extensive work on the ball in the Thunder’s 70-60 loss to Utah, splitting responsibilities with Shaun Livingston. Although he had just one assist and three turnovers to go with 14 points, he looked pretty comfortable running the offense.

"Every chance I get, it’s going to make me better. It’s going to help me get used to it and feel more comfortable with the ball in my hands bringing the ball up. It was a good learning experience," said Harden, who worked against fellow rookie Eric Maynor, the No. 20 pick in June’s draft. "It’s going to help us that we’re interchangeable. I can score, but as a point guard, my first option is to get teammates open shots. I’m confident enough in my passes and the coaches have enough faith in me to let me handle the position."

Livingston liked what he saw out of Harden.

"He has playmaking abilities. The point guard position is the toughest role in the NBA, just because you have so many guys that you’re in charge of, but he’s got the ability to do it," Livingston said. "We’ve got a few guards who can handle and are interchangeable, so that gives the coaches options and room to experiment."

Summer League honor roll

Westbrook and Harden were named to the Orlando Pro All-Summer League’s First Team, while D.J. White got second team recognition.

Westbrook was the Thunder’s leading scorer in each of the four games he played and wound up leading the squad with a 22.3 average, finishing ahead of Orlando’s Ryan Anderson and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, the only others to average more than 20 points per game.


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Harden gets time at point guard

Russell Westbrook rested on Friday, giving the Thunder an opportunity to see what rookie James Harden could do in a point guard role.

Harden has gotten other opportunities to handle the point throughout the week, but saw his most extensive work on the ball in the Thunder's 70-60 loss to Utah, splitting responsibilities with Shaun Livingston. Although he had just one assist and three turnovers to go with 14 points, he looked pretty comfortable running the offense.

"Every chance I get, it's going to make me better. It's going to help me get used to it and feel more comfortable with the ball in my hands bringing the ball up. It was a good learning experience," said Harden, who worked against fellow rookie Eric Maynor, the No. 20 pick in June's draft. "It's going to help us that we're interchangeable. I can score, but as a point guard, my first option is to get teammates open shots. I'm confident enough in my passes and the coaches have enough faith in me to let me handle the position."

Livingston liked what he saw out of Harden.

"He has playmaking abilities. The point guard position is the toughest role in the NBA, just because you have so many guys that you're in charge of, but he's got the ability to do it," Livingston said. "We've got a few guards who can handle and are interchangeable, so that gives the coaches options and room to experiment."

Summer League honor roll

Westbrook and Harden were named to the Orlando Pro All-Summer League's First Team, while D.J. White got second team recognition.

Westbrook was the Thunder's leading scorer in each of the four games he played and wound up leading the squad with a 22.3 average, finishing ahead of Orlando's Ryan Anderson and Indiana's Roy Hibbert, the only others to average more than 20 points per game.

Westbrook also ended up with the most assists (31) and steals (10) despite playing just four games.

With his 14.8 points per game average, Harden wound up second among rookies in Orlando, trailing the Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough (18.2). White finished with averages of 13.5 points and a team-high five rebounds per game, while impressive rookie Serge Ibaka closed out the Thunder's double-digit scorers, averaging 12.3.

Finishing 3-2 tied Oklahoma City with Utah for the second-best mark in the event, behind Indiana's 5-0 mark.

Shuffling off to Vegas

Westbrook made the trip to Las Vegas with the Thunder on Friday afternoon and may play in one of their games the coming week, which is an unexpected development. ... Kyle Hines, Oral Roberts' Moses Ehambe and former OU player DeAngelo Alexander won't play with the team next week, replaced by veteran guard Keith McLeod, Richard Roby, Doug Thomas and Oklahoma State's Marcus Dove.

By TONY MEJIA

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