Gill: I Wouldn't Want To Play With James Harden

Kendall Gill explained why he wouldn't want the reigning MVP as a teammate – and why Harden wouldn't have been as successful in a previous era

Taz and the Moose
February 12, 2019 - 11:41 am

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James Harden is having a historic season. The reigning NBA MVP is averaging 36.5 points per game for the Rockets (33-23), who are fifth in a crowded Western Conference. He is the only player in the league averaging at least 30 points.

Kendall Gill, however, wouldn’t want to play with him.

“No, because he dominates the basketball,” the former NBA player and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst said on Taz & The Moose. “I think that will hurt you long-term – like when they get in the playoffs and defenses start getting tougher and teams have a week to prepare for you. Other players may not be ready to step up when the real lights come on. I believe in players distributing the basketball.”

Harden, to be fair, is averaging 7.8 assists per game – which ranks fifth in the NBA – and the Rockets have played without Chris Paul and Clint Capela for much of the season.

Still, the Rockets have been very much a one-man band in recent months, which is a stark contrast to, say, the Golden State Warriors (40-15), who have three players averaging between 22.1 and 28.6 points per game.

“They move the basketball,” Gill said. “They move it. If you go back and look at the old Boston Celtics, that’s how they used to do it. The Detroit Pistons, that’s how they used to do it. The Chicago Bulls and the triangle offense – you have to move the basketball. If you have one player that’s dominant with the ball – yeah, it’s cool to go to the games and watch him do all this historic stuff. But bottom line, it’s not going to translate into a championship, which is the ultimate goal.”

Gill, 50, played in the NBA from 1990 to 2005. He averaged 13.4 points per game and led the league in steals in 1999 (2.7 per game). He does not think Harden would have been as successful playing in that era.

“I would like to see James Harden in my era play against hand-checking rules and when they wouldn’t let you travel,” Gill said. “It’s a whole different story. We had the conversation of whether James Harden should be considered one of the great scorers of all time. Well, I believe he’s a great scorer, but could he do it under a different situation with different rules? I actually couldn’t put him there with the Michael Jordans, the Kareems – guys that could really score the basketball – because I don’t know. We don’t know whether he could score under those rules.”