1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

GQ: James Harden Is The Villain the NBA Playoffs Need

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by tnopham, May 18, 2015.

  1. tnopham

    tnopham Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2002
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    53
    http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-feed/2015/05/james-harden-nba-playoffs.html

    The Rockets are headed to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1997. And they owe their season to MVP runner-up James Harden. Harden has been his usual spectacular self in the playoffs, averaging 26.7 points, 8 assists, and 4.8 boards a game. But James Harden isn't just a massive talent. Few players shape the way a game unfolds like he does. And many would argue it's not always for the better.

    There's a lot to like about Harden, who almost single-handedly got the injury-riddled Rockets to second place in the West. He's a dazzling one-on-one player; in his own dry way, he's as much of a showstopper as Kyrie Irving or former teammate Russell Westbrook. He is the owner of the most-photographed beard in American sports; as a marketer, he's got a droll, self-deprecating persona that puts him in the same league as comedy darling Blake Griffin.

    But collectively, we have a James Harden problem. For all his accomplishments, charm and individuality, it's impossible to bring up Harden without running smack dab into the free throw line. Harden, as you may have heard, gets to the line at an astonishing clip. On Sunday against the Clippers, he sunk 15 of a whopping 18 attempts. No one has accused him of benefiting from bad calls or whining his way to the charity stripe. If anything, Harden—a rangy lefty whose herky-jerky game moves at very high speed—is a master of drawing contact and catching defenders off-balance. Getting to the line is an important part of a slasher's repertoire and no one does it better than Harden. He may not depend on sacrificing his body like Allen Iverson or Dwyane Wade did, but fouls are about justice, not heroism.

    That doesn't mean, though, that we enjoy watching it. The knock on Harden isn't that he cheats or pollutes basketball but that he mucks up our experience of it. He slows it down and breaks it up, disrupting the flow of the game in the same way as the hack-a-big-man strategy that's become so loathsome. We hold it against Harden not because he makes watching a drag but because he really should know better. For every foul call he draws, there are just as many jaw-dropping baskets to remind you that James Harden should be one of the league's most entertaining players.

    We bitch and moan about James Harden as if he's personally wronged us, when really, he's found a thing that works and will lean on it until it no longer does the trick. It might not always be pretty, but at the same time, Harden hardly has to prove himself in that department. Many NBA obsessives spent the entire 2014-15 season positing James Harden as the enemy when he might well view this part of his game as a necessary evil. Harden still clings to his crossover, his acrobatic finishes, and his stat-stuffing virtuosity. But he's also way too smart to not take advantage of his ability to draw fouls. James Harden certainly has a soul; he's no bloodsucker. But he's never going to stop with the maddening trips to the line; it's simply too effective a tactic to give up.

    But maybe this is a matter of personal preference as much as hardened strategy. Harden's entire style of play is based on quick bursts of activity, seemingly awkward feints and Eurosteps, and a thoroughly deceptive ability to do pretty much whatever he wants, whenever he wants. It goes beyond any single fake; James Harden is a one-man misdirect. His ceaseless trips to the line may cripple the overall flow of a game but it's entirely possible that Harden feels totally at home in this fractured, screwed-and-chopped version of basketball action. If Harden stops the game cold, it's possible that for him it's just a long pause or grace note. We groan at James Harden on our own terms instead of appreciating just how original he is.

    There's also the simple fact that, as unorthodox as Harden may seem now, the league has a funny way of catching up with players or teams that enjoy this level of success. That's not to say that we'll see a host of James Harden imitators—it's almost as impossible to imagine as a brat pack of post-Westbrook initiates—but that his counter-intuitive way with pace and tempo could prove to be more influential than we now realize. The Rockets were damn good at hewing to his rhythms and winning games that way.

    Warping a game's tempo could catch on even if teams lack the exact talent to replicate the James Harden effect. It's the same as when Phoenix Suns small ball caught on despite there being only one Steve Nash in the known universe. Anyone who rolls his eyes at "another trip to the free throw line for Harden" could well be overlooking a very quiet revolution.
     
  2. malakas

    malakas Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    19,044
    Likes Received:
    13,022
    Lebron is always the villain.
     
  3. TracywtFacy

    TracywtFacy Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,882
    Likes Received:
    4,179
    Harden isn't that original... Guys like Kobe and Wade got to the line as much as he did.
     
  4. RoxBeliever

    RoxBeliever Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    6,608
    Likes Received:
    134
    Wait till he masters his floater which he can use when refs are being stingy on foul calls.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. RoxBeliever

    RoxBeliever Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    6,608
    Likes Received:
    134
    By the way, that article was complimentary of Harden. The title was probably to ensure clicks.
     
  6. Voltik

    Voltik Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    958
    Likes Received:
    1,274
    Harden has the body to take the punishment whereas Wade's body couldn't handle it in the long run. Also, Harden attacks the rim relentlessly but he's more careful in how contact is made. Wade was relentless but also careless.

    I think Harden doesn't get enough of the fouls called like Kobe or Wade because of how the media is treating this. Also, when defenders realize how to play against Harden and not to reach carelessly then it will diminish his free throw attempts. However, if Harden continues to evolve his offensive game (which btw is still raw), he will find other ways to score and get to the line.

    Harden must evolve his offensive game with more go to moves such as post play (he has the body to create mismatches), off the ball cuts, improve jumper, and dribble moves to create distance.

    He needs a PG who can create and handle the ball so he can exert even more on the offensive end with cuts and give more effort on defense. Such a PG would create alot more ball movement, reduce turnovers, and create a dynamic offense.
     
  7. chenjy9

    chenjy9 Numbers Don't Lie
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Messages:
    9,948
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    All top scoring wings do. That's simply what happens when you are aggressive and try to score at the wing constantly. The media always needs a villain, someone to hate. Thing about being a villain in the NBA however, is that the villain is always a great player. You never saw ESPN bitching and moaning about Kevin Martin did you? If the media treats you like a villain, that means you have skills that forces them to recognize. I say let them keep hating and the Rockets will keep balling.
     
  8. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2001
    Messages:
    15,072
    Likes Received:
    6,714
    Why are free throws such a big story?

    I literally never heard this about Durant who shoots almost exactly as many. Or Kobe. Or really anyone else. Wade won a championship on phantom fouls.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Blast_Off

    Blast_Off Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    24
    I agree so much. This easy narrative about Harden and free throws that the media lazily goes back to over and over is just completely ridiculous.

    Playoff numbers:

    Harden: 24 playoff games with Houston, 10 FTA per game (career: 67 games, 7.0 FTA per game)

    Karl Malone: 9 of his 19 playoff seasons (103 games total) he averaged 9.8 free throws or more per game, one five-game series he averaged 15+ a game. 8.9 FTA per game over his total 193 playoff games.

    Kevin Durant: 73 career playoff games, 9.0 FTA per game (two seasons over 10)

    Wade in 2006: 23 games, 10.9 FTA per game

    Dirk in 2006: 23 games, 10.0 FTA per game (Dirk career: 140 games, 8.5 FTA per game)

    Jordan: 179 games, 9.9 FTA per game

    Iverson: from 2000 to 2003, 49 playoff games, 9.8 FTA per game

    Lebron James: 10 playoffs, 168 games, 9.5 FTA per game

    Elgin Baylor: 3 playoffs from 1960-1962, 34 games, 11.9 FTA per game

    Charles Barkley: 6 seasons in Phily, 51 games, 8.9 FTA per game (3 of those over 10)

    So that's lots of good players shooting lots of free throws. Harden is different how? The way he draws fouls? None of these other guys would try to draw fouls or sell the contact?
     
  10. photojoe

    photojoe Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,988
    Likes Received:
    2,770
    I'm really tired of this narrative- about the way that Harden just plays for free throws.

    Kevin Durant shot 804 free throws last year. He averaged 9.9 a game.
    James Harden shot 824 this year. On 10.2 a game.
    Russell Westbrook, this season shot 9.8 a game.

    Why is it such a big deal that Harden shoots so many free throws. Everyone loves Kevin Durant. No body mentioned how many free throws he shot last year. Everyone said that Westbrook had an amazing season this year. Did the .4 free throws a game that Harden shot more than Westbrook really make that much of a difference? Really?


    I'm so tired of reading this same article that says the same thing from different authors over and over and over again.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Messages:
    58,051
    Likes Received:
    18,070
    He is a hero to me. It is up to the angle of how you view a player.
     
  12. dachuda86

    dachuda86 Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2008
    Messages:
    14,367
    Likes Received:
    2,892
    Harden plays smash mouth basketball and gets fouls. Because he is tough. People are inherently biased against players like harden because of the foul calls they get AND the fact that he is definitely evil for being in Houston and Howard's teammate. They have labeled us villains since Howard got off the plane.
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. PrawnJ

    PrawnJ Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    171
    I think the difference is sometimes Harden drives to score, as soon as a defenders hand comes in, he extends his arms too. Players like kobe drives into you, utilises pump fakes to get foul calls, a much more difficult process.

    I feel like most of people's disdain towards harden's game is that he doesn't have to work as hard as the rest to get the calls. Personally, I think thats playing smart and I have no problems with that.
     
  14. count_dough-ku

    count_dough-ku Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    16,480
    Likes Received:
    7,369
    I completely disagree with that article regarding Harden not sacrificing his body. He attacks the paint constantly and takes the hits in order to get to the foul line. How many times did we all hold our collective breath during the regular season when he'd be going full speed to the basket, take a hard fall, and be slow to get up? I can recall at least half a dozen instances off the top of my head.

    And people need to stop with this notion that Harden relies on free throws to score as if this is a new concept. MJ lived at the foul line. So did Iverson. So did David Robinson. So does Wade. So does Durant. So does LeBron. If you're a superstar in the NBA and you attack the basket, you're going to draw fouls. That's part of the game.
     
  15. malakas

    malakas Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    19,044
    Likes Received:
    13,022
    You still haven't figured it out yet? It's called winning.
    History rewrites itself in the NBA. When you win you suddendly are a hero and everyone admires you.
     
  16. vince

    vince Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2000
    Messages:
    2,150
    Likes Received:
    719
    It is sour grapes. Morey offered everything he had for Harden. Other teams could easily outbid Morey. But the narrative at the time was Harden was not a Max level player, that Harden was delisional and he broke up the Oklahoma dynasty....

    Now everyone is kicking themselves for quite the blunder of underestimating Harden.

    Harden plays basketball like a gladiator. He plays hard all the time. And everyone knows he is going to drive it in. And if they dont foul, it is an easy two. And the cherry on top is he is a 90% free throw shooter.
     
  17. tmac2k8

    tmac2k8 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Messages:
    2,209
    Likes Received:
    259
    The Villain thing is just crazy. Howard I understand why he became a villain. Be threw his old coach under the bus and forced his way out of Orlando after being undecisive about it. Lebron became a villain after leaving his home town to chase a ring. Kobe is a villain because of his personality. all that's understandable, what has Harden done to become a villain? Because he gets fouled a lot??

    That's just stupid.
     
  18. malakas

    malakas Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    19,044
    Likes Received:
    13,022
    All Harden needs to do is to WIN on his own team. That's all and everyone will admire him and root for him.
    Howard will never not be a villain though. He has done and said too much to shed this. Maybe years after retirement.
     
  19. rm365

    rm365 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2003
    Messages:
    1,497
    Likes Received:
    78
    Harden is not more egregious than Wade was overall in terms of flopping and selling calls for bailouts.

    What pisses people off about Harden is that he occasionally throws his arms into defenders to initiate contact or at least make it hard for defenders to keep defending without making contact.

    It is a new maneuver and part of it is that it is intertwined with his expert ball handling, kind of like a boxer keeping an opponent at bay with his jab.

    I guess fans aren't used to seeing it so they complain about it.
     
  20. jcee15

    jcee15 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,420
    Likes Received:
    568
    Because every story must have an antagonist. Which means we are adversarial to the national narrative.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now