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[Huffington Post] James Harden's Glaring Defensive Problem Is Way Worse Than You Thought

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by cdrive, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. cdrive

    cdrive Contributing Member

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    FRONT PAGE! And only a few scrolls down...

    Here we are again. It just won't die because his performance this year won't let it die. I like many here, I'm sure, are frustrated by how we defended Harden adamantly last year...on forums...on twitter...with friends and people in public saying that he had turned a corner and should be judged on his then current play and not choice snippets of the past.

    Huffington Post, politics all aside here, is a national culture-influencing, general consensus influencing news site. For this non-dying issue to get play there instead of a sports website is discouraging. It's a big spot light with a broader, different audience. One step forward, one step back to where we were.





    James Harden's Glaring Defensive Problem Is Way Worse Than You Thought
    The perennial All-NBA performer is as good as it gets offensively, but equally poor on the other side of the ball.

    Article Link

    Article in Spoiler:
    James Harden is arguably the NBA's best shooting guard. A splendid blend of step-back jump shots, gorgeous Euro-step forays to the basket and late-game heroics, Harden is undoubtedly one of the most devastating scorers of his generation.

    Harden's deadly offensive talent was clear from the start of his Rockets career. Over each of the past four seasons, the former Arizona State standout and No. 3 overall pick hasn't ranked outside of the top five in scoring. This year, his 27.6 points per game trail only the immortal Stephen Curry. But there is more to the game than just scoring. Despite his immense natural ability, the 26-year-old sniper seems to have forgotten about that.

    After an expected improvement to his individual defense last season, Harden's defensive regression this season has been unmistakeable. Opponents are shooting over 5 percent better when he's playing, as the USA Today noted in December. They connect on made field goals nearly 8 percent better from less than 10 feet and 4 percent better from greater than 15.

    You don't have to be a lockdown individual defender to become a useful defensive player in basketball. San Antonio has made a living by employing players like this. So too has Golden State en route to its two-way dominance.

    The Clippers' J.J. Redick is a prime example. Positioning, effort and basketball acumen lend themselves to team defense and Redick -- despite lacking elite foot speed and quickness -- can maximize other areas to mitigate this.

    In the video above, Harden's laziness results in the failure to box out and contest an easy layup that should never have even been attempted. Below, we see him whiff on a hapless help attempt -- where he is out of position -- that once again results in an easy layup for the opposition. Against Cleveland, he blows by Kyrie Irving on a busted closeout, resulting in a wide open pull-up jump shot. Each video shows Harden in a different, but equally poor lapse.

    Harden, for all his offensive prowess, either doesn't understand his lack of defensive effort or worse, simply doesn't care. And the Rockets, after an unexpected run to the Western Conference finals last year, are a pedestrian 22-22, barely good enough to earn a playoff bid.

    Defense is a crucial reason why we've seen such a surprising regression. While amassing a stellar 56 wins during the 2014-15 campaign, the Rockets ranked ninth in opponent field goal percentage and, almost as importantly, first in opponent 3-point percentage. But this season has been a different story.

    Houston ranks a woeful 26th in field goal percentage against and just 16th in 3-point percentage allowed. As a result, their defensive efficiency has plummeted from sixth (last season) to 22nd and their points surrendered per possession has significantly increased from a solid 1.18 to a middling 1.24.

    That is a worse clip as the Lakers, Timberwolves and Nets, all widely regarded as poor defensive teams. Of course, all of the onus does not fall on Harden: Dwight Howard has predictably been a colossal disappointment and Houston's two best perimeter defenders -- Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer -- have struggled to contain dribble penetration.

    Harden, for all of his offensive genius, is the face of the franchise. He's a perennial All-NBA performer who just so happens to also be a defensive sieve. His defensive win shares have hovered around the cellar of the league for combo guards. Harden is also the 63rd rated shooting guard defensively in the NBA, with a plus-minus of -1.75. In other words, there are about 30 backups better than him.

    "It's not a matter of whether I can or can't play defense," Harden told USA Today in October 2014. "It's just a matter of me focusing for 48 minutes throughout a game and making sure that I'm always alert on both ends of the floor."

    "Playing that amount of minutes, you're going to have some lapses, some mistakes," Harden told ESPN.com in December. "I try to not worry about them. I try to give my all on both ends of the floor and live with the results. ... Who do you know spends 40 minutes at a high level on both ends of the floor nowadays?"

    Talking about playing defense and playing defense are two very different things though, and Harden, for all his greatness, knows this better than anyone. Houston, meanwhile, isn't good enough to challenge for a title, but Harden's detachment on that end of the floor has become disgraceful and indefensible. And his megastar status only amplifies that.
     
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  2. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    nothing surprising about this. Your best player cannot be this bad defensively and he will never win a title as long as he is considered the #1 guy on a playoff team. This puts a huge limit on the players he can play with also. Doesn't matter what he does on offense.
     
  3. TheRealist137

    TheRealist137 Member

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    Nice, hope someone sends this to Harden. He needs to get called out every day until he improves.
     
  4. Hank McDowell

    Hank McDowell Member

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    I'll say it again...

    Harden should be a 6th man off of the bench.
     
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  5. malakas

    malakas Member

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    I'm happy for this. First the article even though it had some inaccuracies didn't say anything wrong. Harden's defence has fallen that much. And more importantly hopefully it will shame Harden and he will try some more.

    BTW defensive rpm is a joke. According to that Evan Fournier and Monta Ellis are better defensive sg than Klay thompson and Wesley Matthews.
     
  6. CDrex

    CDrex Contributing Member

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    I'm what could pass as a Harden apologist around here, and I couldn't find any fault with their piece. It was essentially all true without being as histrionic about it as Clutchfans.

    The team's terrible defense isn't because of Harden (after all, with a similar starting five and a similarly bad Harden in '13-'14 the defense was much better than this), it's a number of factors including notable slippage from Bev and Ariza. But at the same time, if you're going to lead a team to a title you absolutely cannot write off defense as something you skip to improve your energy on offense, like the Harden quote from last month. At the very least, you have to do a credible Tony Parker impression - Parker leans on his teammates a lot for help on defense but he never just stops and stands flatfooted.
     
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  7. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    Damn. "Disgraceful and indefensible." That about sums it up. Just didn't expect it to be part of an article appearing outside of a sports site.

    It won't make any difference, though. From articles I've read, Harden has always wanted to be a star: "Mom," said young James, "I'm going to be a star."

    Well, he is that, and his scoring numbers attest to that. But is it all he cares about?

    I can't fault him much after his effort last night resulting in a triple double, but again, the poor defense of the entire team just dragged them under, and his numbers were for naught.

    As David Thorpe said on Lowe's podcast (paraphrasing here), "I was hoping last year that I was seeing Harden mature. I was wrong. He's the same guy."

    And he keeps getting lit up by opposing shooting guards, even if they normally are suck players.

    But hell, even Ariza has been jack-squat this season. It's the entire team....loafing on defense, not getting back. Showing Forrest Gump I.Q. on defense, on positioning, rebounds. MAKING A SIMPLE G.D. LAYUP OR DUNK.

    Since defense is about effort, it means too many players on the team don't care and/or don't try. And that has been the worst part of this season.
     
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  8. FTW Rockets FTW

    FTW Rockets FTW Contributing Member

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    Great piece. Spot on. Absolute garbage on the defensive end and he brings the entire team down with his lack of energy, focus etc. As leader, he has been nothing but disgraceful at that end. SO many opposing SG's and wings light him up on a regular basis.

    Waiting for delusional no bball knowledge fools like jordnnn or fizzle or lars to tell show us some random stat to excuse Harden of the absolute **** he has been on the defensive end.
     
  9. Haymitch

    Haymitch Contributing Member

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    HuffPost is 99% clickbait garbage. They weren't always that way but it's what they've become. Has anyone else noticed this change or is it just me? Even the article title is click baity.

    With that said...

    Didn't read the article but I wouldn't be surprised if it's fairly accurate.
     
  10. joeson332

    joeson332 Member

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    It has officially gotten sad.
    Can we end this season already? I legit have given up hope. It's one thing to ride by your team though the bad but this, this is just pathetic.
     
  11. ksny15

    ksny15 Member

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    You're narrative about Harden bringing the entrie team down is such opinionated bull****. Players are in charge of themselves.


    As to the article it's a great piece I hope it finds its way back to Harden.
     
  12. B-Bob

    B-Bob my celli weighs a ton
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    Sadly, I too agree with the article. I have come to see James as a 1970's gunner playing in the 2000-teens. Some of those guys *really* used to play no defense, and it was okay. Run up and down the floor, score, and see who has a better shooting game. Plenty of vintage and famous players in that mold.

    Everyone wanting him to change should give up. There's a large enough body of work that we know what we have. He just can't sustain interest in playing D. Maybe he thinks he can turn it on when he needs it, but basketball people know: it doesn't work like that. Habits are hard to break, and his fundamental defensive habits are awful.
     
  13. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    LMAO

    You say this in every post.

    I actually agree with the article. Kind of surprised the Huffington Post wrote such an article, but they sum it up pretty well. Who denies James Harden is bad at defense?
     
  14. B-Bob

    B-Bob my celli weighs a ton
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    Largely true of the internet in general. None of the economic models are working, and they're desperate. True for BSPN, etc. Grantland failed, etc.

    But HuffPo (I've written for them in the past) mainly uses guest writers, so it is INCREDIBLY variable. This one was okay and hard to debate, really.
     
  15. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Haters go home
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    pretty sure a lead article on Huff Po about his bad defense is going to find its way back to Harden.
     
  16. OTMax

    OTMax Member

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    Wow did not know about quote from Harden saying who do you know nowadays that plays 40 minutes on both ends :eek: Is that his excuse??? :mad:

    I hope the national media will continue to **** on this guy and hard. Love this article and the bolded line in particular. Harden does not care and Morey and teammates need to call him out. I don't give a **** what type of player he is and how he would respond to it. It is time!!!
     
  17. jordnnnn

    jordnnnn Member

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    I checked out basketball reference and according to that site James Harden is a shooting guard and has started every game he has played as a Rocket.

    That stat leads me to believe that Harden's defense is excusable.
     
  18. bulkatron

    bulkatron Member

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    Nothing new here, but those videos are painful to watch.

    The space between Harden and his defender is an ocean.
     
  19. onreego

    onreego Member

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    Please, please, can we get Battier to teach him positional defense? Battier was not the most athletic but he knew where to be on defense. He used his brain which I know James has one...sometimes.
     
  20. joeson332

    joeson332 Member

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    I hope more people on the national media continue to call out this clown's pathetic excuse of defensive play. I've defended this man so much last year only for him to take 2 steps back on that side of the ball. Dude has the ability to be a great defender, not sure if the Rockets ask too much from him or he legit just doesnt care either the more they call out his play the better.Grow up man.
     
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