Jump to content

Recommended Posts

In the midst of the NBA playoffs, the Warriors have beaten the Houston Rockets twice; once in which Stephen Curry played only 20 minutes, lit up the scoring, then got hurt and sat for the rest of the rout(game).  In the 2nd match up, Curry didn't play due to injury...opening up tremendous opportunities for Houston.  Didn't pan out though as the Golden State Warriors won again, even without Curry.

Of course there could be a variety of reasons for the results...but one suggestion is that James Harden's defense is simply not that stellar.  Below a video of some of his shining moments on defense:

"Great Moments in James Harden Defensive History" on espn.go.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Harden couldn't guard a chair if the chair worked just a little bit at getting open. His scoring ability is obvious and no one is better at drawing a foul but I am also of the opinion that his teammates don't particularly enjoy playing in an offense with him either.

Guys who flat out don't try on defense really piss me off.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't buy it.  Harden was as much of a dumpster fire on defense last year (and years before that -- the number of YouTube videos making fun of his "defense" are endless) but they made the WCFs nonetheless.

The Warriors have a way of making decent and even some very good teams look bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw Harden playing this past weekend, and was wondering if we were going to see a thread about him. While I've never cared much for him, this thread makes me wonder two things:

1) Does anyone like *either* James Harden *or* Carmelo Anthony, but not both? I suspect not many, since they seem programmed to score points and not much else.

2) How would you compare Harden (all-offense, no defense) with Dennis Rodman, (all-defense, all-rebounding, no offense)? I ask because Rodman was a terrible offensive player; yet, he's given a free pass as being a "role player" or a "support player" to the Jordan-Pippen offensive powerhouse. I would propose that he is every bit as incomplete a player as Harden; yet, he's in the Hall of Fame. Why can't Harden be lauded as a "role player?" Defense, rebounding, and passing the ball around is important, but teams need someone who can put the ball into the hole.

I agree that offense is unfairly overrated compared to defense, and that's probably why offense wins individual honors; defense wins championships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

2) How would you compare Harden (all-offense, no defense) with Dennis Rodman, (all-defense, all-rebounding, no offense)? I ask because Rodman was a terrible offensive player; yet, he's given a free pass as being a "role player" or a "support player" to the Jordan-Pippen offensive powerhouse. I would propose that he is every bit as incomplete a player as Harden; yet, he's in the Hall of Fame. Why can't Harden be lauded as a "role player?" Defense, rebounding, and passing the ball around is important, but teams need someone who can put the ball into the hole.

Everyone wants to score... no one wants to play defense and rebound. Harden will likely be in the Hall of Fame as well eventually given more years of production similar to the last few. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, farmer john said:

Everyone wants to score... no one wants to play defense and rebound. Harden will likely be in the Hall of Fame as well eventually given more years of production similar to the last few. 

Ok, but rather than discuss what players want to do, what about what players can do? After all, that's closer to the point Don was making. In terms of what players can do, surely Harden's offensive skills rank near the top of the league, while his others don't seem to. That does seem to mirror Rodman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rodman could've worked on his scoring for years with only marginal improvement... Harden could improve his defense immeasurably overnight by simply putting forth some effort. What players want to do (within the limits of their natural abilities) is what differentiates champions from also rans. If what a player "can" do is the mark of greatness then Hassan Whiteside would be an all-timer.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only posted the opening thread after seeing that astonishing video:  Harden's Worst Defensive Efforts.  Oh My.  that stunned me.  So many highlight video's with highlight positive plays.  I don't recall seeing a top ten set of examples of the most miserable plays by any one player.  It stunned me.   The opening thread was meant to be more tongue in cheek and the opening title I used was James Harden:  Defensive Superstar??

That being said Harden is a player I don't or haven't watched much.  As with many in the past I watched him early in his career, then watched a bit when he was traded to Houston and became the main cog of the offense.  Frankly I don't like watching his game, aesthetically.  Can't really say why or why not...just don't like it and never did.

And so I can't say that I've seen much of him recently or over the years.  I've probably never focused on watching his defense or obvious lack thereof.  

But people don't make video's of the highlights of absolutely outright miserable defense UNLESS its so persistent and so obvious.  And if it doesn't improve or get better.  Now Harden also has highlight films of his BEST plays on offense, both scoring and passing.  I doubt anyone would argue he is among the most talented scorers in the league these days.  He has consistently been among the league leaders in scoring, has upped his passing game to be among league leaders, and he is probably the premier player in the league right now at drawing fouls, particularly shooting fouls.  He converts well at the line.  That makes him ever more effective on the offensive side.

I still believe that video highlighting and featuring WORST plays is both funny and interesting.  I repeat people don't create videos of worst plays, unless its endlessly repetitive and outrageously bad.  I assume that is the case with Harden, but admittedly, I repeat I haven't watched him much recently.  I do agree with Farmer John's reference above;  I also hate players that make no effort at all on the defensive end.  Such must often be the case with Harden.

Here is a totally different point of reference on worthwhileness and likeability at least from my perspective: 

Go to the current season basketball reference page for the NY KNICKS, the Los Angleles Lakers the San Antonio Spurs and since Harden is the point of this thread might as well look at the Houston Rockets.

Scroll down each page and look at the top 2 or 3 player salaries.  Also consider records;

For the Knicks, Carmello Anthony, and Lopez top the salary list with about $38 million combined.  Lopez, I would argue was overpaid, a late pickup by the Knicks who couldn't attract a better quality center.  The team stunk.  Its been lousy for several years.  I'd simply argue that Carmello soaks up salary, is out for the big bucks and no matter what he says has salary over team quality as a major emphasis.

For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant and Hibbert together make about $40 million.  Hibbert, btw is a player on which I miscalculated.  He had that magnificent playoff series against the Lebron led Miami team a few years ago, got a huge raise, and I (being a home town fan) figured he was well on his way to annual dynamic improvement (as he had accomplished through his college years and earlier pro years).  Didn't happen.  He has seriously regressed.  Kobe is a whole different story and a "one of a kind": Highest salary in the game, and arguably the worst performer in the league this year (for someone with major minutes).  Of all players with major minutes and passing the threshold for being ranked in shooting percentage...Kobe was the worst in the rankings of 117 players.  WORST.  Highest salary-Worst Shooter.  Talk about discrepancy.

The Knicks and the Lakers stunk this year.  Stunk.  The Lakers were a competitive embarrassment.  I personally think they should have cancelled their schedule for embarrassment to the integrity of the game and competition.  

Go to Houston.  Harden and Dwight Howard earn about $38 million, plus Ty Felton earns $12 million.  Howard, btw: took less than 9 shots/game this year and I was noting at the end of the season as Houston was trying to get into the playoffs probably took less than that average per the box scores over the last 8-10 games.  Howard was shut out of the offense.  As to Howard and the Rockets, something was amiss this year, either with Howard, his teammates, or Harden who controlled the ball.  Howard simply was ignored.  Why???   I didn't watch to form an opinion....but that speaks to disfunction.

Spurs:  Aldridge and Leonard made $36 million this year.  Leonard was 1st team all NBA;  Aldridge was either 3rd team or honorable mention.  Parker, with a high salary probably underperformed his earnings.  The Spurs had a killer killer great season.  BTW:  Tim Duncan made $5 million, and Ginobilli made less.  

When it comes to players, salaries and playing for championships and being competitive....don't tell me how great they are at scoring, or rebounding or defense, or whatever "best skill" they have.  Show me how they perform, how the team performs, how they fit in and how competitive they are.  That is what I find most telling.

Back to Harden.  I'd like to see another video of an additional 10-40 examples of matador defense.  It would be entertaining. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Go to Houston.  Harden and Dwight Howard earn about $38 million, plus Ty Felton earns $12 million.  Howard, btw: took less than 9 shots/game this year and I was noting at the end of the season as Houston was trying to get into the playoffs probably took less than that average per the box scores over the last 8-10 games.  Howard was shut out of the offense.  As to Howard and the Rockets, something was amiss this year, either with Howard, his teammates, or Harden who controlled the ball.  Howard simply was ignored.  Why???   I didn't watch to form an opinion....but that speaks to disfunction.

Dwight Howard may still have the reputation of a top center, but he's really not that good anymore (and hasn't been for many years).  Internal strife or not, I don't think there's any malice behind his reduced role on offense.  If anything, one could argue that the Rockets would've missed the playoffs if he were taking more shots.  And he's certainly no longer the elite rim protector on defense that he once was.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/20/2016 at 11:35 AM, silentbob said:

Dwight Howard may still have the reputation of a top center, but he's really not that good anymore (and hasn't been for many years).  Internal strife or not, I don't think there's any malice behind his reduced role on offense.  If anything, one could argue that the Rockets would've missed the playoffs if he were taking more shots.  And he's certainly no longer the elite rim protector on defense that he once was.

Very interesting article and analysis with regard to Howard.  Didn't know that.  Don't watch the team and didn't know he was getting a lot of touches with relatively few shots, let alone baskets.  If that is a fact it totally changes what I wrote:  He isn't being shut out from the ball...he is seeing the ball and is unable to convert.  Very different.  

BTW:  When he was younger he was tutored by Ewing, later tutored by Olajuwan...and he never developed the quality offensive skills both of those guys had, of either type.  and now per the article he is on the downward skill slope.   Well c'est la vie for him.  Meanwhile Houston is not a happy team, their record skewed downward this past year, Per Silentbob, and the article Howard is losing his skills and per Farmer John above, Harden would have difficulty guarding a chair.  

Well back to my drawing board.  I'll suggest this:   Houston had $50 million invested in Howard (skewing downward) Felton (evidently a troubled knucklehead) and Harden (whose package of skills/ package of pros and cons are at the minimum-- debatable.  $50 freaking million down the drain.  (man is that not a description of many sports teams and their owners and franchises...and how do teams like the New England Patriots and the San Antonio Spurs beat that curse year after year)?

I don't know...but I think I'd like to have the financial problems of the owner of the Houston Rockets....$50 million poorly spent...and he is still rolling in lucre. ;)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's Lawson in Houston, not Felton. (Although both are former UNC point guards who have had troubles off the court)

When Howard was good he got by on dominant athleticism rather than basketball skills- once he had a back injury he had no real skills to fall back on. 

The Wiz should have done whatever it took to keep Ariza.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, jasonc said:

you're wrongfully assuming that wouldn't take a toll on his offense.

Making effort on defense didn't seem to diminish Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Curry, etc etc too dreadfully on offense. If a guy has to take a bunch of time off on defense in the name of his scoring average you are more than welcome to him. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/20/2016 at 3:10 PM, farmer john said:

It's Lawson in Houston, not Felton. (Although both are former UNC point guards who have had troubles off the court)

When Howard was good he got by on dominant athleticism rather than basketball skills- once he had a back injury he had no real skills to fall back on. 

The Wiz should have done whatever it took to keep Ariza.

@Framer John.  Thanks for the correction as to the ex UNC guards.  On Ariza;  What do you do with a mid level starter like that?  He left, we got Pierce.  Lucky break for a year.  Pierce left and Otto Porter coming off a great playoff steps into the role.  Porter still has miles to go to step up further.  He does have years ahead of him with a lot of potential to improve.  This is where decisions, luck, etc all come into play with lots of unknowns.  Lots of teams move the older guy to give room for the upcoming promising younger guy.  Its a decision fraught with unknowns.

...and with so many unknowns all I can suggest is that the owner of the Rockets blew most of his $50 million spending on those three underachievers, Lawson, Howard, and Harden.  The Houston team will probably be worth more next year than this year.  The team is trending downward.  

The decision on ballplayers part is difficult with all sorts of unknowns.  The competitiveness of the team:  There it is --the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with all its up and downs.  The money part is freaking amazing.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, farmer john said:

Making effort on defense didn't seem to diminish Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Curry, etc etc too dreadfully on offense. If a guy has to take a bunch of time off on defense in the name of his scoring average you are more than welcome to him. 

You just named a bunch of first-ballot HOFers.  Harden isn't at their level (and arguably more than a cut below given his horrible defense), but still quite valuable.  I think that defining him by scoring average only is somewhat misleading when he's been top 10 in assists for the whole league the last two years and in the top 3 in rebounds among all shooting guards.  I watched a ton of his college games and never thought he'd be a good NBA player but he's proved me wrong over and over.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DaveO said:

 On Ariza;  What do you do with a mid level starter like that?  He left, we got Pierce.  Lucky break for a year.  Pierce left and Otto Porter coming off a great playoff steps into the role.  Porter still has miles to go to step up further.  He does have years ahead of him with a lot of potential to improve.  This is where decisions, luck, etc all come into play with lots of unknowns.  Lots of teams move the older guy to give room for the upcoming promising younger guy.  Its a decision fraught with unknowns.

...and with so many unknowns all I can suggest is that the owner of the Rockets blew most of his $50 million spending on those three underachievers, Lawson, Howard, and Harden.  The Houston team will probably be worth more next year than this year.  The team is trending downward.  

The decision on ballplayers part is difficult with all sorts of unknowns.  The competitiveness of the team:  There it is --the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with all its up and downs.  The money part is freaking amazing.    

True- breaking the bank for Ariza was probably not the thing to do at the time. Porter's potential for improvement is subject to debate at this point. I think Nic Batum would look awfully good in a Wiz uniform for the next few years since they will have a boatload of money to throw around. Porter could then be the bench player his skill set probably dictates. I am a better retrospective gm than current however. 

I didn't understand the Lawson pickup for Houston at the time and it still makes no sense. The last thing you need along with Harden is a shoot first point guard. It would be interesting to see what the Rockets could've done this year if they had not fired Kevin McHale so early in the season. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, silentbob said:

You just named a bunch of first-ballot HOFers.  Harden isn't at their level (and arguably more than a cut below given his horrible defense), but still quite valuable.  I think that defining him by scoring average only is somewhat misleading when he's been top 10 in assists for the whole league the last two years and in the top 3 in rebounds among all shooting guards.  I watched a ton of his college games and never thought he'd be a good NBA player but he's proved me wrong over and over.

James Harden is without question a very very good NBA player... probably the second best offensive player in the league today after Curry. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, farmer john said:

True- breaking the bank for Ariza was probably not the thing to do at the time. Porter's potential for improvement is subject to debate at this point. I think Nic Batum would look awfully good in a Wiz uniform for the next few years since they will have a boatload of money to throw around. Porter could then be the bench player his skill set probably dictates. I am a better retrospective gm than current however. 

I didn't understand the Lawson pickup for Houston at the time and it still makes no sense. The last thing you need along with Harden is a shoot first point guard. It would be interesting to see what the Rockets could've done this year if they had not fired Kevin McHale so early in the season. 

From my perspective I never would have bothered posting about Harden if not for that video of his worst defensive plays.  Found it stunning.  So many video highlights referencing so many players highlights on offense (Harden has them also).  How many video's highlighting a player's worst deficiencies?   I doubt there are many...maybe none as telling as Harden's.   After seeing that I was thinking about Mchale and his getting fired.  McHale:  Extremely competitive:  Played on one of the great and most competitive teams.  Played offense and defense with great energy and was good at both.  He must overflow with competitive juices.

Somehow after seeing that Harden video my mind floated to Mchale.  I think he should have punched out Harden.  Probably should have done it at some point long long before he got fired....(ie last year).  He should have knocked some sense into Harden's head.  You don't win games with matador defense.  Imagine the coaches of every opponent every game ...game planning to run the offense through the guy Harden is defending.  Had to get very old very fast.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sort of surprised McHale didn't use tougher more disciplined efforts with Harden to get him to try a bit more.  McHale has a history of getting his point across and giving defensive effort in the playoffs......

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/20/2016 at 3:17 PM, farmer john said:

Making effort on defense didn't seem to diminish Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Curry, etc etc too dreadfully on offense. If a guy has to take a bunch of time off on defense in the name of his scoring average you are more than welcome to him. 

You should read this and explore the links: 

"Kobe Haters are Stuck in 2008" by Neil Paine on fivethirtyeight.com

TL;DR version: sabermetricians used to disregard guys who could score and do little else (for a lot of the same points you make, e.g., it's selfish, anyone can do it if they take the shots, etc), but it turns out the ability to score is rare and valuable. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jasonc said:

You should read this and explore the links: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/kobe-haters-are-stuck-in-2008/

TL;DR version: sabermetricians used to disregard guys who could score and do little else (for a lot of the same points you make, e.g., it's selfish, anyone can do it if they take the shots, etc), but it turns out the ability to score is rare and valuable. 

Thanks.  I quick read the article without going to the links.  I still neither liked Kobe or frankly I've hardly paid attention to Harden.  I recognize that isn't a fact based response or one subject to analytical discussion.  Its visual, impressionistic, based on playing, watching a lot, etc.  I prefer the teams that move the ball with accuracy precision and purpose to create easy, easier, and closer shots, the result of passing, team movement, picks, cuts, cut backs, awareness, team awareness, practice, coordination, etc.  I also appreciate the explosiveness, or accuracy, or whichever most prominent skills great scorers have.  But I prefer team and ball movement.  Its the essence that binds all team sports.  

Hey, game 3 of the Houston-Golden State series:  Houston won, Harden scored a lot, Harden took and made the last and winning shot. The scorer was the hero.  I still don't like his game, and I'm still surprised  a singular player can generate a worst of video.  How do teams win?  You score more points on offense; you keep the other team from scoring while playing defense.  

I got this picture and some of it flows back to Harden's ex coach, McHale.  In a fierce finals contest he played on a team with extraordinarily talented offensive teammates:  Larry Bird at the top of the heap.  McHale, by 1984 was evolving into a top notch offensive weapon.  They were playing the Lakers; the team with Kareem and Magic, and in a series where Worthy showed just what a weapon he was on offense.  The teams played offense and defense.  McHale went all out/overstepped the bounds...but made a memorable startling defensive play/clothesline on Kurt Rambis.  It was fierce on both sides with no let up.  The Celtics won in 7.  I still think McHale would have a lot to teach to Harden.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/22/2016 at 9:54 AM, jasonc said:

You should read this and explore the links: 

"Kobe Haters are Stuck in 2008" by Neil Paine on fivethirtyeight.com

TL;DR version: sabermetricians used to disregard guys who could score and do little else (for a lot of the same points you make, e.g., it's selfish, anyone can do it if they take the shots, etc), but it turns out the ability to score is rare and valuable. 

Ty Cobb used to dismiss Babe Ruth, basically saying that any gorilla can hit home runs, but I think he mellowed as he aged - it's been shown, through certain advanced stats, that home runs are disproportionately valuable as compared to small-ball. That said, stats can say whatever you want them to, if you have enough stats to work with.

This, however, has nothing to do with offense, or small-ball - unless I'm seeing it wrong, this was just a blatant push-off:

"NBA Says James Harden Committed Offensive Foul on Game-Winner to Beat Warriors" by Rodger Sherman on sbnation.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×