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!

Will James Harden or Soften?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by dookiester, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. dookiester

    dookiester Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Messages:
    1,741
    Likes Received:
    440
    James Harden is the best player on the team. He has the greatest offensive skillset the Rockets have seen since T-Mac, and he has the strength to be a solid defender. But despite his consistent scoring output, the simple truth is he has struggled mightily down the stretch run of this season - after a solid first half of the season and a terrific February (in which he shot 52.9% from the field, 49.3% from 3), he's run into a brick wall.

    In March and April he's shot under 40% from the field. His eFG% is the lowest it's been all season (sub-50%) - though his TS% remains high because of his ability to draw fouls. For comparison's sake, Jeremy's FG% shot up after a terrible start to the season to a solid 48% in March and 44% in April (with 40% and 36% from 3) with an eFG% above 50%, and Chandler's been hot (no homo) for a long while now, shooting 48.0% from the field and 43.6% from 3 in March, then 62.5% from the field and 45% from 3 here in April (with eFG% well above 55% in both months).

    And yet despite Harden's struggles offensively (and it's been a consistent struggle for at least 2 months now), the Rockets have a tendency to end close games by going to a well that's clearly run dry: give it to Harden and pray for the best. No movement without the ball, no ball movement. Just one man against 5. The bad news is that despite Harden's substantial offensive talent, defenses in the NBA are smart, and know how to load up and take his favorite moves away. And without the ability to go to his best moves, Harden is stuck dribbling the tread off the ball at the top of the 3 point line, either for a deep contested 3, a last minute dumpoff pass to a teammate with just 2 seconds to either make a move or throw up a prayer, or a turnover. Our offense is so predictable Jeff Van Gundy called our inbounds play at the end of regulation the second he saw Harden take it sideline.

    Now I'm not blaming Harden for his, or the Rockets', struggles. It's clear that he's not 100% healthy - whether it's his knee or his ankle, he isn't playing with the same aggression and ability to explode to the basket. Not sure there's any stat for this but he's probably finished half as many and1 plays as he did in the first half of the season. At the same time, his usage rate is higher than it's been all season, despite his obvious trend down in shooting efficiency, and his teammates (Lin and Parsons) clearly shooting better and better. At some point, the coaching staff needs to take some steps to help their superstar player out. Point out that his dip in efficiency is directly related to his holding on to the ball for 10 seconds more than he should. That when his shot isn't falling, maybe the answer isn't to keep shooting, but to try to impact the game in other ways. And that, most important of all, he's got some other guys on his team who are playing pretty darn well.

    Either James needs to trust his teammates more, or the coaches need to tell him that the Rockets are a better team when the ball doesn't stay in his hands for 90% of the shot clock. It's too hard to tell from the outside looking in whether the stagnant offense we've seen these last few months is a result of James' lack of trust in his teammates or the coaches' failure to communicate to James how he can help his team in ways other than shooting the ball, but the Rockets have to evolve from where they are now to have any shot of winning anything, whether this year or in the future.

    Maybe this is just a growing pain that comes with a young team and a coaching staff that's scrambling for consistency after consecutive years of incredible turnover, but this has been some of the most frustrating basketball I've ever seen from a Rockets team. Yes, we've overachieved relative to preseason expectations, but there have been a handful of games this season where we got to glimpse what this team could become - where the defense was more than a sieve and the ball zipped around on offense like a hot potato, instead of sticking to one player's hands like superglue. And that Rockets team is incredible to watch. That's the Rockets team with a promising future. That's the Rockets team I hope the coaching staff tries to nurture and develop, and enhance and strengthen with more sophisticated offensive sets and a greater commitment to ball movement and defense. I know it can be done. But if the Rockets are going to get there, James is going to have to help himself by trusting his teammates. So, will James harden and do what it takes to win, with or without the ball, or will he soften and try to shoot the Rockets back into their winning ways?
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. whoisray

    whoisray Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    11
    It's just beautiful to watch this young team when they are clicking on all cylinders. You can tell that Harden wants to be THE leader - the scorer, the facilitator, and the finisher. But he's just doing too much offensively.

    Let Lin be the PG and distribute the ball. If Harden's open, it will come back to him. Everytime Harden goes to the paint and tries to pass it to Asik or Smith, it's a turnover waiting to happen. You could see it in Harden and Asik's faces that they are frustrated as well.

    Also I think part of Harden wants to play the slow it down playoff game. When he comes back in the game in the 4th, it's just ISO ISO ISO. I understand the star has to take over but he has to realize the more pace and movement we have, the more successful we are. I highly doubt McHale's game plan is to all of a sudden change up the pace in the 4th but it's on McHale to call some plays!

    Harden's limits his own game by dribbling around the 3pt line. As a fan, you can almost guess it's going to be a step back 3 or a last second pass to Lin/Parsons/Delfino. We should run some plays for Harden where he finishes the play instead of starting it.
     
  3. TJ VS TR

    TJ VS TR Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Messages:
    2,399
    Likes Received:
    37
    He had great December and February but actually his percentage weren't that great in November and January. But of course, March and April awful. He tries to be Kobe too much.
     
  4. DreamRoxCoogFan

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2007
    Messages:
    3,659
    Likes Received:
    171
    winning thread title.
     
  5. tomato123

    tomato123 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2013
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    39
    He had a hard time recently without whistle. Look at his previous games, most of his points came from FT. When there's no whistle and he's desperate to push up his stats, he made crazy shots.
     
  6. TheBornLoser

    TheBornLoser Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Messages:
    1,393
    Likes Received:
    46
    Carl Herrera-lite.
     
  7. itstheyear3030

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    28
    I'm sure he'll be hardening a lot come off season.
     
  8. coachbadlee

    coachbadlee Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Messages:
    24,357
    Likes Received:
    3,918
    He has been softening lately. He is also showing signs of low "D" levels.
     
  9. LCAhmed

    LCAhmed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Messages:
    11,014
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    Harden has started off hot in the beginning of games but seems to be off the mark and looking for the whistle after the first qtr. I wonder if he is still being bothered by that knee and if his body is exhausted from playing all these minutes throughout the season compared to last year.
     
  10. sammy

    sammy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    Messages:
    18,807
    Likes Received:
    3,419
    He needs some help. Lin isn't allowed to do it.

    It's common sense. Tired legs = no lift = brick central.
     
  11. lwlee

    lwlee Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    7
    I don't mind that he shoots the 3s but his drives have got to be smarter. Stop with the mindless drives to the basket without regards to whether you are gonna to make the shot. Hoping for a foul call. Early in the season, he was trying harder to make those shots and the fouls were happening naturally. Now it seems like he doesn't care if it's a good shot.
     
  12. Anxiety Trooper

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    1,310
    Likes Received:
    37
    I agree with this assessment. It's actually becoming frustrating.
     
  13. hbomb

    hbomb Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    26
    Harden has the potential to take over in the playoffs.

    But it seems that Harden isn't as clutch as we have all dreamed him to be. His moves in the isos and in the clutch are highly predictable as OP has said, worst still his FG% when it matters has been decreasing as of late.

    It was so painful to see him settle for driving pull up mid range jumpers which is really not his forte. Maybe Howard's defense got to his psyche...but i sure don't hope the Harden that dissapeared when it mattered last year haunts us this year.

    Because if that is the Harden that is coming, we're going to be swept.

    By blow-outs.
     
  14. jcee15

    jcee15 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,528
    Likes Received:
    598
    This. I don't have the mpg game this year vs. latter seasons in OKC in front of me, but he's clearly fatigued or being nagged by injuries.

    I expect in the years to come he will know what kind of off season/ mid-season
    work he's going to have put in to be the #1 on a contending team.
     
  15. lwlee

    lwlee Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    7
    Harden had some help last night. Parsons was on. Since Harden is the main man, he's given the liberty to go ISO and create. He just hasn't been making good choices lately.

     
  16. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Messages:
    19,968
    Likes Received:
    10,293
    thought this was a Harden not Lin thread
     
  17. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Messages:
    19,968
    Likes Received:
    10,293

    Yep Lin was perfect last night
     
  18. lwlee

    lwlee Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    7
    Twin towers stymie Harden and Lin last night. There were periods when Lin stopped trying to attack the basket or he would just dribble around. Harden went in head first but without regards to making a good shot, looking for the foul. He repeatedly failed.

    So when the defense shows a brick wall, you got to adjust. Pull up for the close range 8 footer. I loved Lin's floater at the beginning of the game. But it never happened again.

    The game was definitely winnable. Just some poor play down the stretch.

     
  19. lwlee

    lwlee Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    7
    Dude, why are you bringing Lin into this?? It's a Harden thread.

    Lin's play wasn't particularly good down the stretch. In fact, he coughed it up a number of times in crucial moments. His shooting % was worse than Harden. But Harden is superstar, he was the main man multiple times in key situations in the 4th Q and OT and he didn't come through.

    But the issue is bigger, his play level over the last 2 month has declined enough to cause concern.

     
  20. rocketsrising

    rocketsrising New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    if you look at the most minutes he's played in a season, he's probably crossed that mark around 60 games into this season....which would be end Feb. so yes he's most likely shooting a few bricks he's collected from the proverbial wall right now.

    it could be because he is having to playmake...and this ends up in a low percentage shot when he can't find a teammate moving in an open spot. hopefully it is this process that we are interpreting as isos, because the coaching staff have consistently said that they would rather have ball movement than one-on-ones.

    his one-on-one moves are not going to be profitable in the postseason though...especially against ex-teammates who are used to them. hope the coaches can get the team zipping the ball about again!
     

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