Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

Harden organizes minicamp for Rockets teammates

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The Beard is embracing his role as leader of the Houston Rockets.

For the second-straight season, James Harden will gather his teammates in a players-only minicamp ahead of the team’s official training camp in September, Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston reports.

Weather permitting, the plan is to hold the minicamp next week in Miami.

“James is doing everything,” Rockets swingman Corey Brewer said. “He is showing he wants to be a leader.”

After being voted the MVP by the players association in 2014-15, Harden failed to make any of the three All-NBA teams last season on account of a 15-win drop-off by his team. The Rockets had to play catch-up all year after Harden started off the season in a prolonged slump.

Harden is looking to change all that this year.

“He’s the franchise player,” Brewer said of Harden. “He signed the extension. So it’s his team, and he’s doing all the right things to do what we need to do to have a chance to win championships.”

Having added three new faces and a handful of rookies to the roster, the new-look Rockets need all the time they can get to build team cohesion.

“We want to send a message that we’re ready to go,” Brewer said. “We’re going to work our butts off. All the guys have been working hard this summer. Last year was a year that we didn’t like. Everybody has a bitter taste in their mouth. So we can’t wait to get started.”

A good place to start would be to work on their defense.

The Rockets lost Dwight Howard and replaced him with Ryan Anderson, installed Mike D’Antoni as head coach, and Harden remains one of the least attentive defenders in the league. Their turnaround won’t be possible without being able to stop opponents.

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