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Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) gestures to a teammate during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Monday, April 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni shifts James Harden to point guard

AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

Already a de facto ball-handler for the Houston Rockets due to his place on the team, James Harden will move into full-time point guard duty this season in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s trademark uptempo system.

Previously listed as a shooting guard, Harden is already coming off career-high numbers in usage rate (32.5 percent) and points per game (29) last season. The Rockets, who did not retain center Dwight Howard this offseason, are expected to rely more on their elite scorer this season, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com.

“He’s more or less responsible giving rhythm to the team, that’s what a point guard does,” D’Antoni said on Monday via Watkins. “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 playcaller, a good basketball mind, he’s already telling guys we can do this we can do that.”

So, former Rockets’ starter at point guard Patrick Beverley may encounter some issues since Harden will technically be moving into his position. Harden, though, also averaged a career-high 7.5 assists per game last season and the Rockets plan to surround him with shooters in Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza, to name two.

“My teammates trust in me to make the right decision whether its scoring or whether its 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.”

Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni shifts James Harden to point guard

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