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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. ;)

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

 

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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. 

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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.

 

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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

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Not to beat this issue to death, but the problems with the Rockets and Harden drew a lot of attention this year.  Here are comments from one of the veterans on the team, Jason Terry a long term vet, who cut to the core

Quote

.” Terry, on the other hand, cut straight through the static and pointed to the frayed partnership between Harden and Howard, who had most likely played his final game with the Rockets.

“They just couldn’t coexist to have success this year,” Terry said. “Chemistry was a big issue for us all year long. We just didn’t have it.”

Not quite sure why I never found Harden's game appealing.  I watched him when he first played for Oklahoma City.  In a lot of ways his game is like that of Manu Ginobelli, a player I've enjoyed watching;  take the ball on the outside, fake a shot and drive or shoot from the outside.  Also pass, and Harden has become far more of a passer.  Mostly what I found so watchable with Ginobelli, I've found sort of ugly with Harden...his drives with the Euro Step.

In any case Harden has caught a lot of blame from across the realm, including that of former Rockets and teammates from this year.  He is controversial.  Howard may have seriously regressed on offense, but there are many who criticize Harden's game.

....and if you are wondering why James Harden is being discussed on a food oriented forum...here is the link to that mystery

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On 6/15/2016 at 2:01 PM, DaveO said:

For those who liked the "Shaqtin' a Fool" Awards (I have no idea what this means, but it makes me laugh), here's the entire compilation for 2015/2016 [I'm not sure what the original video above was, but it no longer exists, so I did the best I could with replacing it - it happens sometimes with YouTube.]:

Harden has arguably been the only player on this forum more-mocked than Carmelo Anthony, but last night he had a uniquely great statistical performance on New Year's Eve, becoming the only NBA player ever to drop a 50-15-15 triple-double, with 53 points, 16 rebounds, and 17 assists - nope, not even The Big O can claim this one:

"Harden is First in History with 50-15-15 Game" on espn.com

The article conveniently neglects to mention that he also had 8 turnovers. Ironically, his performance came against the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, who had an absolutely dreadful evening, with 7 points (on 3-11 shooting), 1 rebound, and 3 assists.

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We were at the game last night, and I'll be the dissenter here and say I think Harden is plenty fun to watch.

(And Don, a few of those turnovers were from long throws down the court on transition when they were up by a ton. To my mind, kind of "fun if you make the play but no biggie if you don't" situations.)

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He is playing great this year.  So many positives.  Admittedly I haven't watched  a game.  Gotta watch games, like Josh  which is how one picks up things like accumulating turnovers at the end when they meant less.  

Shaq a fool one year MVP candidate the next year.  I have no idea abt his defense this yr but with all his offense and the team's record he is obviously playing great and it's all showing.

Appears that the coach has impacted the team in a big way.  Bully for them

Gotta watch them.

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It’s several years later and James Harden won the NBA MVP award.  Deserved.  He had a great season as did his team.  They were mere inches from beating Golden State in the playoffs.  

This article paints the great What if  question.  Several years ago Harden was at Oklahoma City with teammates Westbrook and Durant.  All 3 have now become league MVPs.  It suggests that trio could have been the most talented trio on any team- ever.

Interesting.  Never thought of that.  Were Oklahoma City a major market with big money they might all still be there with some championships.

What if..........

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47 minutes ago, DaveO said:

What if..........

O-ver-RA-ted, clap-clap CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

BUT, those three were arguably the most-talented trio ever - I can't believe they played on the same team.

There's still something "stiff" about Harden's game that fails my eye test. Anyone?

Carmelo Anthony needs to go play #4 next year, and waive his salary, just to win a championship. He'll be better-off in the long run - his career (his HOF career) is over, and he has nothing to lose; everything to gain, by being a championship team's role player.

Clem Haskins popped into mind - I remember him being described, coming off the bench for the Bullets, as "Instant 'O.'"

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13 hours ago, DonRocks said:

There's still something "stiff" about Harden's game that fails my eye test. 

It’s repetitive.  It also overwhelmingly starts from the same place on the floor most of the time.  It’s not only Harden but the way the team plays with the players spreading across the 3 point line so that plays are either 3 pt shots or drives with Hatden being the main driver and nothing else.

Chris Paul did change and mix up that pattern somewhat on overall team play

I’m not a fan of his style either.  But it is hugely effective.  Btw. Harden is big.  He is solid and it shows.  He is the size of Oscar Robertson and can overpower players shorter or not as heavy as him. 

The team was “built”/“designed” to beat Golden State last year. They almost did.  Barring injuries they should be close again next year while their center Capela is a rapidly improving force as a center 

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6 minutes ago, silentbob said:

Large chunks of Harden's offensive production are based on two things that aren't traditionally viewed as aesthetically pleasing, (1) the Euro step (which folks to this day disagree vehemently about whether or not it's a travel) and perhaps most notoriously (2) lots and lots of FTs.

Yes on both accounts.  While many players currently use the Euro Step I associate it with Ginobilli.  Was he the first player in the NBA who used it extensively? When he executes them they are often at the end of plays where his moves are remarkably lateral and "space creating".  He also executes them from a drive from any point on the court.  In his case I find/found them fascinating.  Not always the case with other players who often utilize this move.  Harden is almost always coming down the middle of the court.  That often--it becomes too repetitive.

Harden does draw tons of fouls.  He is its current master.  He draws the calls when its highly debatable.  It too isn't pretty.

Houston makes GREAT use of this though and it made them a killer team.  They are the closest team to Golden State Beaters.  The team is dominated by Harden's contributions.  Look at some of the advanced NBA team stats.

Scroll down to shooting percentages per team and advanced shooting percentages.  Houstons's effective Shooting % was second only to Golden State.  Its because of the overwhelming volume of 3 pointers relative to any other team.  Add in its percentage of foul shots per field goal attempt and high Free Throw percentage---and bingo they became a scoring machine that was closer to Golden State than any other.

The team is modeled on Harden's strengths. 

Its not "pretty".  It works great. 

 

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On 2/1/2014 at 3:25 AM, DonRocks said:

This human pogo stick deserves his own thread. I can think of three unstoppable shots off the top of my head in NBA history: Elvin Hayes backing in to the basket on his strong side, then turning around and shooting a fadeaway bank shot; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook, and Kevin Durant's jump-back from 25 feet.

As of now, I might add James Harden's step-back 3-pointer.

Don't forget: As recently as 2011-2012, Harden was the #3 player on Oklahoma City after Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook - can you imagine the potential on that team?

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Harden is on a hot streak, scoring like Wilt Chamberlain.  As a big guard he has a great handle, fakes, drives, his step back jumper (mostly 3 pointers) and is the most skilled player in the league at drawing fouls.  The Houston offense is built around him going 1 on 1 and or passing off.  He is a non stop scoring machine--the only thing that seems to stop him is he having an off game in shooting and/or exhaustion at the end of a game (probably after putting up 20, 30+ shots). 

I don't enjoy watching his offensive game...but he is freaking great and currently unstoppable.  The step back itself is very well done;  he drives hard one way or the other--the defender reacts, Harden's step back is quicker than the defender can react.  He practiced it a lot over the last several years.  It is a killer shot.

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11 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I had read that article and thought it was interesting, explanatory, and analytical.  As of last night Harden has 14 straight games of 30 or more points, a passel of 40 point games in that stretch.  Nobody has done that since Tracy McGrady back in 2003.  Harden is currently a scoring explosion.

I frankly don't watch him much, mostly highlights here and there.  I'm one of the people described in the article as not favorably inclined by his game.  If I watched an entire game I might become bored by its combination of repetitiveness and isolation play.  Regardless, he is both the killer scorer in today's game AND remarkably effective as the article describes.  After a losing start to the season The Rockets are strong competitors for the playoffs and a high ranking position.  Harden makes the Rockets great.  Can't deny it.  

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Here is an example of the ying and yang of the game:  Harden is the dribblingest player in the NBA.  The last chart in this article gives one sense of his dribbling  versus the rest of the league. I'm not sure if I got this correct but I caught notice that the cameras caught over 800 dribbles by Harden in a recent game.

OTOH:   Klay Thompson just had a very big scoring game.   His ying to Harden's yang;   Thompson had 4 dribbles all game!!

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3 hours ago, Steve R. said:

Would we have felt differently about Melo’s game if he could shoot this well?

This question was asked at the most ironic time.

"James Harden Scored 38 but Had One of the Worst Nights Ever" by Matt Bonesteel on washingtonpost.com

Look at Harden's year-over-year "3PA" for an explanation of why his scoring has increased almost annually. I guess this is what I was referring to in another thread when I said I don't like how the game of basketball has changed, and that the 3-point shot has changed it in a way that makes me not like it as much (I don't even enjoy watching the Warriors, and I enjoyed watching Kevin Durant more in Oklahoma City).

Harden changed his game to fit the modern NBA (when he's not shooting 3-pointers, he's rebounding and dishing out assists - those things seem contradictory, but somehow, they aren't); Anthony didn't modernize his game at all.

Funny, I was just thinking about Melo (and James, and Duncan, and Iverson, and Wade) yesterday, in the 2004 Olympics. (You have to acknowledge Anthony's 3 Gold Medals (2008, 2012, and 2016) - Anthony is the only man in history with 3 Golds, and he came back to get them after the humiliation of 2004) :

United States

Player Pos MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Tim Duncan F-C                   16 4 5 0 7   15
Allen Iverson G                   4 3 1 0 3   15
Lamar Odom F                   5 0 0 0 3   13
Dwyane Wade, Jr. G                   3 1 3 2 1   10
Richard Jefferson F                   5 1 0 0 4   8
LeBron James G                   1 1 1 1 1   5
Shawn Marion F                   6 0 1 0 1   4
Stephon Marbury G                   1 1 0 0 0   2
Carlos Boozer F                   4 0 1 0 1   1
Carmelo Anthony F                   1 0 0 0 1   0
Amar'e Stoudemire C                   0 0 0 0 0   0
Team                     46 11 12 3 22   73

Puerto Rico

Player Pos MP FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Carlos Arroyo G                   4 7 4 0 2   24
Eddie Casiano G-F                   0 1 0 0 4   18
Larry Ayuso G                   3 1 1 0 0   15
Rolando Hourruitiner F                   5 1 1 0 1   9
Jose Rafael Ortiz C                   6 0 0 0 3   8
Daniel Santiago C                   3 0 0 0 2   7
Bobby Joe Hatton G                   1 1 0 0 3   5
Sharif Karim Fajardo F                   3 0 0 0 3   4
Peter John Ramos C                   2 0 1 0 0   2
Rick Apodaca G-F                   0 0 0 0 0   0
Jorge Rivera F                   0 0 0 0 0   0
Team                     27 11 7 0 18   92
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2 hours ago, Steve R. said:

Would we have felt differently about Melo’s game if he could shoot this well?

👎 Nope

Now if he could convincingly be seen as a cause for wins, I’d readjust.  I’ve never seen it.

BTW: I don’t enjoy Harden’s game but it convincingly leads to wins

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More on the Harden phenomena including a discussion with Tracy McGrady, who had a scoring streak...like Harden's...though Harden has now surpassed it...and Scottie Pippen, Jordan's teammate.   Its a different game, so say the stars of yesteryear....

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Harden’s streak is remarkable. It has pushed his season scoring average to above that of Rick Barry (a player who my cousin and his teammates managed to hold to a measly 53 or so in high school).

Screenshot 2019-01-20 at 21.38.21.png

I haven’t watched any of the games in the streak.  I don’t enjoy his game.  The team is significantly missing other scorers; Harden is carrying the load, and they are winning.  Bully for him.  

Meanwhile the Warriors have improved their game, Green is healthier, and is the facilitator that makes the game prettier, even as they Shoot almost as many 3’s as Houston, or fake and drive past defenders.  The 3 has changed the game although it’s utilized differently by different teams

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13 hours ago, DonRocks said:

* The 3-point arc has invalidated comparisons with the greats of yesteryear, from Jordan-on-back.

I would adjust that to say its the volume of 3 pt shots in today's game (and by certain teams) that invalidates the comparisons with yesteryear.  After all the NBA has had the 3 pt line since the 79-80 season.  Its in the last few years that its usage has exploded and the sense of the game, its flow, and how it is played has changed.  The changes have been somewhat abrupt.  Teams with "legacy" big bruisers and too many of them were and have been caught off guard.  They have tried to adjust (i.e. the Wizards by example) and the adjustment is ragged and difficult. 

Usage and volume of 3 pt shots at this time does negate comparisons with yesteryear.  I agree with that.  It possibly negates comparisons with as few as 5,6,7 years ago.  Harden is the extreme though I suspect there will be more followers on his path.  Meanwhile though a team gets a player such as Embiid at Philadelphia, at 7' 2" or bigger and Talented.  They would be dumb to turn to the Harden/Houston model. 

Overall though I'd agree that the volume of 3 pointers in general has significantly changed the game.

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Have you ever thought about the players guarding James Harden?   Right now everyone of them is giving up 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 57, 58 points.   He is killing them.  Every single one of them.  Must be miserable.

One person who can relate is basketball commentator Jalen Rose who played against and covered Kobe Bryant the game Bryant scored 81 points.   81 points.  That makes Harden seem like a semi-pro.

Here Rose speaks about and illustrates the experience:

But wait:   Today's ESPN has a piece wherein Rose's commentating colleagues investigate this experience in greater detail.  Per the research Jalen Rose only "covered" Kobe Bryant while he scored a measly 18 points. 

There is hope for all those players over the last 20 games who have been on the receiving end of the Harden torching.   Beyond that in the next game they only have to play a mere mortal. 

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