Kobe Bryant is the most famous ball-hog in NBA history besides maybe Allen Iverson. In fact, this year his advice to Celtics wing Jayson Tatum was just “shoot it whenever you can.” That’s why his comments about Houston Rockets star James Harden are so weird. Harden is in the midst of a historic streak, scoring at least 30 points for 27 straight games behind only Wilt Chamberlainwho might as well have his own set of record books. But Kobe is wary that Harden can go deep in the playoffs as his team becomes more reliant on him. Harden currently has a usage rate of 40.17%. That’s second all-time only to Russell Westbrook‘s 2016-2017 campaign.

Kobe comments on rockets, Harden’s Playing Style

“I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships, I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers star said about Harden. “But at the same time you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing that.”

When asked if the Rockets could win a title as they were, he said, “Not with this style of play, it won’t win. With one player dominating the ball.”


Bryant said that the team’s style was limiting, adding that it’ll become more so “particularly in the playoffs.” But he wasn’t afraid to give Harden props. “What he’s doing is absolutely remarkable though,” the Black Mamba added.  “It’s a testament to how remarkable it is because people are now trying to minimize what it is that he’s doing. He’s doing some phenomenal stuff.”

While many wondered if Harden can survive the wear and tear of carrying a team, Bryant acknowledging the concern only legitimizes it. Kobe averaged a usage rate over 32% for ten seasons in his career. He also scored 35.4 points per game in the 2005-2006 season, the most since the ABA-NBA merger, excluding Michael Jordan and Harden this season.

But in Bryant’s most successful seasons, the five that he won championships in, his usage rate hovered between 26.8% and 32.3%. During his back-to-back title runs in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, his shot attempts decreased, his minutes dropped and his team’s success went up.

But the solution in Houston isn’t as easy as it seems. When Harden was asked about his play, he said, “I have to ball-dominate with all of the injuries. We have had the injuries throughout the course of the year. Right now he is probably right. This way that we are playing won’t happen in the playoffs, won’t get us where we want to go, but we haven’t had a full roster. Yet I am excited for that to come.”

Can the Rockets survive these injuries? And if not, can Harden survive this season?

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