For the past few years, James Harden has essentially functioned as the Houston Rockets’ point guard. Now, he has the title to back it up.

James Harden To Play As Houston Rockets’ Full-Time Point Guard

Coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday morning that the shooting guard is changing positions to become the Rockets’ full-time point guard.

At Monday’s media day session, D’Antoni said: “He’s more or less responsible giving rhythm to the team, that’s what a point guard does. He’s going to be on the ball and he’s going to be distributing the ball and it will take some adjusting. He’s got a lot more responsibilities as a point guard. A play-caller, a good basketball mind, he’s already telling guys we can do this we can do that.”

Last season, Harden, 27, averaged a career-high 7.5 assists per game last season to go along with 29.0 points and 6.1 rebounds. He has increased his per-game assist total in each of the past six seasons.

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Per Basketball-Reference.com, Harden–who designed his own sneaker a few weeks ago– has also set career highs in usage rate in each of the last two seasons (32.5 percent last season).

Harden refused to classify himself as a point guard, although he seemed to enjoy the responsibility created by his new role. “I’m a basketball player,” he said.

“Just a lot of trust. My teammates trust in me to make the right decision whether it’s scoring or whether it’s making a play,” Harden said. “We have a lot of guys who are more than capable to create and knock down shots and that’s what is going to open our floor. A lot more guys are going to get open shots left and right.”

The Rockets seem to be making this move purely for reasons relating to roster necessity. Houston signed Eric Gordon to a $53 million deal this offseason. Gordon should serve as the main offensive shooting guard as Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela round out the starting lineup.

Houston finished 41-41 last season before making sweeping roster changes. There could be rumors of a more “uptempo” system under D’Antoni, although last season’s Rockets already ranked seventh in pace, according to NBA.com. ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins reported that D’Antoni said he wants Harden to play the system at his own pace.

“Sometimes he will be (slower) sometimes he’ll be a faster version. Steve [Nash] is not like your traditional jet. Steve had his pace and Jeremy Lin had his pace and guys had their pace and all the point guards I ever coached had their way of doing it and those are very good players. He’ll have his way. I don’t know if we’ll time him, ‘Ok, he’s fast or slow.’ It will be fast enough to score.”

The Rockets begin the season on Oct. 26, when they face the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Caption:HOUSTON, TX – MARCH 14: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets takes the basketball down the court during their game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Toyota Center on March 14, 2016 in Houston, Texas.

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