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[538] How James Harden Changed His Game In Brooklyn

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by vator, Mar 3, 2021.

  1. vator

    vator Contributing Member

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    Article Link: https://fivethirtyeight.com/feature...d-his-game-in-brooklyn/?addata=espn:nba:teams

    Oh look, more evidence to "prove" that James Harden is a completely different player than the one we had in Houston. Focusing on cherry-picked stats that show he's passed more this season in comparison to the last couple of seasons, but nary a mention that he also passed more in pick and roll situations in 2 out of the previous 4 seasons prior to this one and flew right past a mention that his assist rate was much higher in 2017, the last time he led the league in assists. I think it is a good break down if you want to chew on the numbers yourself and confirms some of the things I'm seeing, but at the same time, it is infuriating because of the narrative that he has gone from unwatchable in Houston to a joy to watch in Brooklyn literally overnight when the truth of the matter is, he is simply taking advantage of having better shooters around him.

    Context is important here. They do acknowledge that he is working with different personnel so yeah maybe if I'm an all-time great scorer I'll take my chances of scoring the ball rather than passing it in isolation, but if you put me with other all-time great scorers and a sniper-like Joe Harris that will convert on over 50% of my passes I'll take that option over a step-back 3 with a guy's hand in my face.


    "Of course, the changes Harden has made to his game since arriving in Brooklyn go beyond just “he’s passing the ball more often.” He’s playing differently than he had the past few years, too. Specifically, he’s seen a sharp reversion in how often he isolates as opposed to running a pick-and-roll.

    "When Mike D’Antoni showed up in Houston for the 2016-17 season, Harden’s pick-and-roll usage nearly doubled. He went from running 33.2 pick and rolls per 100 possessions in 2015-16, according to Second Spectrum, to 65.9 per 100 in D’Antoni’s first season. But that was his high-water mark under D’Antoni, as the Rockets shifted toward a more isolation-heavy offense over the years. Last season, the gap between Harden’s pick-and-roll and isolation usage per 100 possessions was the smallest it had ever been during the player-tracking era, which began in 2013-14. Since arriving in Brooklyn, though, his usage of those plays has diverged again. Harden is back to pick-and-rolling far more often than he isolates.

    Even the structure of Harden’s pick and rolls is different in Brooklyn than in Houston, largely because of the group of players he’s been running them with. A shift began toward the end of Harden’s time in Houston, but the Nets have only accelerated it: Harden is now screened for by a guard more often than he is by either a forward or a center."


    Sharp reversion you say? So he's played like this before right if he's reverted back to something? One of the other years he got passed over for MVP and Russell Westbrook got it. Also, who was he supposed to be running an efficient pick and roll with last year after we traded Capela?
     
    #1 vator, Mar 3, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  2. alethios

    alethios Member

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    Proof that the player hasn't changed, just the circumstances.
     
  3. RustyHarden

    RustyHarden Member

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    All I see is blue
     
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  4. vator

    vator Contributing Member

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    The blue hard on the eyes? I thought it made it easier to discern the quote from the article and my opinions, but I'm fine with changing it back to black.
     
  5. RustyHarden

    RustyHarden Member

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    On mobile dark theme it hurts eyes but I read thru link
     
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  6. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    So, IOW, he is playing differently according to the measurable data we have.

    The reasons for why is playing differently (different mindset or different team context) is a separate question that is open to debate.
     
  7. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Black doesn't work either for Dark Theme users. How about just use bold formatting for that part?
     
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  8. vator

    vator Contributing Member

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    Personally, I'd like to see a deeper dive into how he played this year in comparison to 2017. The year he had to average 36 ppg for us to win because Chris Paul was always hurt and our role players were not good is the single biggest outlier to how James Harden plays than this year is in my opinion.
     
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  9. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    If you mean the last two years sure, there are differences. Right now though he's playing the pretty much same way he played in 2016-2017. I think as we have discussed there should be a distinction between calling him a different player and saying he's playing differently. I dont even like saying the latter. Were people talking about Lebron James being a "new" player when he got to the Lakers? No, his options changed. Same here.
     
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  10. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

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    Harden has really blossomed since leaving the draconian system in Houston.
     
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  11. vator

    vator Contributing Member

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    Fixed it! I honestly had no idea. I just went into the dark theme to see for myself and WOW. It is a whole different world there lol. Thanks for letting me know.
     
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  12. DrNuegebauer

    DrNuegebauer Member

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    Do 538 realise MDA is sitting right there on the BKN bench???

    Harden runs mostly the same sets
     
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  13. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Saying he is a different player can be done in a way that is disrespectful to the work he put in as a Rocket. That's annoying.

    But an article that's describing the way he is playing differently as a Net seems fine to me, as long as it's not taking unfair shots at the work he did as a Rocket under different circumstances. What qualifies as an unfair shot is of course a matter of opinion.
     
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  14. pippendagimp

    pippendagimp Member

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    this 538 hasn't been right about anything bball related. last postseason they had us w/ top title odds lol
     
  15. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Show me the articles of Kobe “playing differently” versus articles focusing on how he needed better teammates ... from his ballhogs bad Lakers years to the B2B.

    ...

    Showing slightly different stats does not equate to changing your game. His stats took a shocking turn between McHale and MDA. This is a subtle difference in stats at best ... especially vs 2016-17.

    like a QB in the NFL, he is the floor general and is running largely the same plays, but at different rates. He didn’t just add the floater and step back to his game; he isn’t playing off ball/cutting like many predicted he’d need to do; he didn’t just learn how to make any of those passes; he isn’t shooting midrange; he’s still dribbling a lot to lull defense to sleep during ISOs; he’s still standing offscreen watching Irving go 4x4; his defense was just as good last year.

    The biggest difference imo is he’s going out of his way to get his teammates to stand on their own feet, and be ready for a pass. It’s like he knows he has to raise the boat for everyone, but this time, he wants the young guys to think, and is making them cut more, and if they fail, then so be it, shake it off and learn from failure. So ,,, atm ,,, he’s more inclined to give up the ball than shoot or drive to rim himself.

    this is most notable in his passing once in the lane

    there is far more similarities to differences.

    These stats article are just needing a story and hunting for statistical difference, so people can have their cake and eat it too, in the sense of liking Harden now but needing articles like this to feel justified in previous dislike ... rather than, oh, I didn’t know he was this talented, because that offense Rockets ran last three years was too ugly to watch...(and, like Kobe, blame it on being surrounded with bad offensive players)

    As someone who has actually followed Harden’s career, and can unpack stats on him to super geek levels as well as give lectures on film studies, I don’t see why there needs to be a hunt for “change” to justify previous dislike.

    For casuals, can’t we just show stats and film of how he always had this game, and just needed a better fit. You can’t tell me that’s not a story too? And one closer to the actual facts.
     
    #15 heypartner, Mar 3, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  16. vator

    vator Contributing Member

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    This is exactly what I feel like people are doing. Searching for "reasons" to justify why they like him now in Brooklyn when they took a hot steaming dump on him in Houston despite him putting up HISTORICAL numbers. The truth of the matter is many of them never really watched him as closely as they are watching him now. Had he been putting up the stats he's been consistently putting up on the Lakers or Knicks, he'd have 1 or 2 more MVP trophies right now.
     
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  17. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    I think calling him a different player in any capacity is insulting to his time as a Rocket. Saying he’s playing different than the last two years I guess is okay. But to say he’s reinventing his game or now he’s a more exciting player is just false. He’s getting less free throws so people can just pretend he’s different now.
     
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  18. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    The stats aren't slightly different. This isn't just normal year-to-year statistical variation. You mentioned the shocking turn from McHale to MDA. Yes, and there were a bunch of articles that year talking about the differences in his game that season too, weren't there?

    I agree with you that that focusing on change to justify previous dislike is annoying, particularly if the reasons for the original dislike are not fact-based. But it doesn't follow that the change isn't there.
     
  19. ApacheWarrior

    ApacheWarrior Member

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    82games.com breaks down the Harden passing

    http://www.82games.com/2021/20HOU5.HTM

    Season...............3-pt ast.....jump ast....close ast.....dunk ast...total ast.......pass T/O's.....ast/bad pass....pass Rtg.......ast 48 mins.
    Houston17/18........240...….........24.............187...............178.............629...….............161...................3.9.....................19.7...................12.1
    Houston 20/21,........27......…........7...............25...…............24...............83.....................17....................4.9.....................24.8..................14.1
    Brooklyn 20/21........95................36..............54.................48...............233...................43....................5.4.....................21.0..................14.2

    So let's put up 17/18 season (72 games) vs Brooklyn 20/21 season (22 games) numbers projected out:
    Houston 17/18..........240..............24............187...............178..............629...................161..................
    Brooklyn 20/21..........311............115...........176...............157..............763...............…..144..................

    So less close/dunk assists for Harden now.......more 3-point assists. Can reporters claim Houston didn't take 3-pt shots in the last 4 seasons?
    Brooklyn just has better 3-point shooters in Joe Harris/Durant/Irving etc.

    So one could say Silas changed Harden before Brooklyn did.
     
    #19 ApacheWarrior, Mar 3, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  20. HP3

    HP3 Member

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    Can you really call something different if it’s just changing the frequencies in your play distribution??? I guess you can but Like I agree with HP, this article shouldn’t be called “How James Harden has changed in Brooklyn” because it’s a useless distinction that any non casual who has watched Harden would find useless. it should be talking about “James Harden has pieces around him” or “James Harden has new weapons” :D:p
     
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