No doubt, the Houston Rockets fell far short of expectations with their super star James Harden squarely in the spot light. But, is it fair to place all the blame on the bearded man?
Superstars Take The Hits ?
True, the national media has taken as many shots at James Harden as he does from the field it’s because of the Houston Rockets struggles all season. Looking back perhaps in the initial eight weeks of the season it was all warranted.
That’s when Harden deemed it necessary to take plays off on defense which angered his teammates and got his coach fired. Hey, it even got him a special dedication of Sports Center videos catching Harden napping on defense.
Now I’m not defending those lackadaisical defensive misstep’s, but come on people every player gets beat time to time on defense, even great defenders have it happen at least once a game.
You see the vines everywhere showing one mistake by Harden on defense, but for some reason Harden’s great defensive plays get lost in translation.
— Got Thugs? (@HtOwNzOuTLaW713) February 10, 2016
Why didn’t this great defensive play by Harden on a 1-3 fast break show up on ESPN playing over and over?
One blown assignment on defense doesn’t make a player a bad defender. It just screams of laziness and lack of discipline which is partly due to coaching. The Rockets defense was atrocious all year and blaming it all on one player is just not fair. Houston allowed their opponents to score 106.4 points per game ranking them 25th out of 30 teams.
The Rockets defensive rating was also horrid as they posted a 108.1 per 100 possessions, placing them 21st out of 30 teams. Was Harden part of the problem on defense? Yes, but the offense went to shambles without him on the floor.
Check out Harden’s effect on offense and defense and the net rating on both offense and defense when on and off the floor:
- The Rockets offensive rating with Harden on the court 110.1
- The Rockets offensive rating with Harden off the court 101.8
- The Rockets net rating with Harden on and off the court +8.3
Basically their is no offense when Harden is off the court because the offensive rating drops tremendously when he takes a rest.
Now let’s take a look at the opponents offensive rating with Harden on/off the court:
- The Rockets opponents offensive rating with Harden on the court 108.4
- The Rockets opponents offensive rating with Harden off the court 107.7
- The Rockets net rating with Harden on and off the court +0.7
As you can see Harden doesn’t hurt the team as much on defense as you might think.
Harden’s 2015-16 Season Summary
The Rockets finished the season with a 41-41 record for the 2015-16 season. Guess who gets most of the blame? The superstars of the team of course. And, with Dwight Howard’s decline due to age and injuries, Harden will take most of the criticism for the Rockets failure.
Despite the Rockets record, statistically Harden had a better season this year then his runner-up MVP performance last year. Harden had a career year in points per game, rebounds per game, and assist per game. Check out the stats from last year to this year for Harden:
- Points Per Game 27.4 (2nd in the NBA)
- Assist Per Game 7.0 (tied for 8th in the NBA)
- Rebounds Per Game 5.7
- Value Over Replacement Player 7.8 (2nd in the NBA)
- Total Points 2217 (1st in the NBA)
- Points Per Game 29.0 (2nd in the NBA)
- Assist Per Game 7.5 (6th in the NBA and 1st at the shooting guard position)
- Rebounds Per Game 6.1 (Career high)
- Value Over Replacement Player 6.9 (4th in the NBA)
- Total Points 2376 (1st in the NBA)
Harden vs the Detroit Pistons January 20, 2016
Highest Percentage Of Team’s Assist For Non-Point Guards
Is Harden To Blame For The Rockets Struggles?
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So why is Harden getting slammed for having a better season than last year? I see a player who still continues to grow and has shown he is ready for the spot light and warrants being called a top 5 player in this league.
Basketball is a team sport and Harden and the team as a whole were awful defensively. Without Harden the Rockets would’ve never finished with 41 wins or end up with the 7th best offensive rating in the NBA. Also Harden averaged the most minutes per game in the NBA and played in all 82 games.
So, before we criticize Harden for the Rockets bad season how about we look at the bigger picture. Share your thoughts. Is Harden to blame for the Rockets atrocious season?
Do you blame James Harden for the Houston Rockets struggles this year?
— Curtlow!!! (@SWHTown30) May 8, 2016
Make sure you check out Space City Scoops end of season Rockets Round Table:
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