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Daily Rocket Science: On Harden’s Shoulders

Apr 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after the Rockets made a three point basket against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after the Rockets made a three point basket against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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The blame for this season’s woes has been pushed around between everyone in the Rockets’ organization, but perhaps it’s time to demand changes from the face of the team.

James Harden is one of the best players in the league. His ability to score in a variety of ways and his underrated passing ability make him lethal on the offensive end. Despite his defensive struggles, he’s still wildly productive and would be the star of pretty much any team in the league.

However, that does not exclude him from fault for the Houston Rockets‘ issues this season, and as the face of franchise, he may be deserving of more blame than the average fan realizes.

Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web

Dave Leonardis of Today’s Fastbreak provides argument that the Beard has inadvertently caused the decline of production for nearly every player that Daryl Morey has brought in to play alongside him. His refusal to share the spotlight and tendency to hog the ball have limited the number of opportunities for other players on the court; his attitude and play-style will have to change for that problem to be remedied.

"Each acquisition failed to live up to its potential for various reasons, but the common denominator seems to be an inability to establish chemistry with the face of the franchise. Harden is one of the few players in the NBA who can transition between dynamic scorer and crafty facilitator. He’s averaged at least 24 points and five dimes in each of his first four seasons in Space City, but when it comes to sharing the spotlight, his assist ratio seems to be 0.0."

unrelated, but James Harden had 566 ISOS this year. second most was carmelo anthony at…393.

— RedNinetyFour (@RedNinetyFour) May 22, 2016

On a similar strain, Matthew Hallett of Hoops Habit argues that the biggest issue with the Rockets is the disguised inefficiency of Harden’s play. It seems wild to criticize productivity of the man who scored 51 points on 25 shots last season, but his numbers limit his teammates to the point where it becomes counterproductive.

Harden’s slash line was 29 points per game at 44/36/86. Compare that to Kevin Durant who scored 28.2 points per game, on 50/38/89 shooting.

Now, why is this important to compare? Harden took 22 percent of Houston’s shots (1,617 of 6,847), allowing Dwight Howard to take only 600 shots, less than 10 percent of Houston’s shots while shooting at 62 percent from the field.

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Every argument has a counterargument, and it’s important to understand both sides of the situation. To provide insight to why Harden might not be the problem, Rahat Huq of Red94 uses analytics to prove how inefficient Dwight Howard was this season. Statistics can prove anything, but the numbers he digs up are quite compelling.

"Per NBA.com stats, Howard got 297 touches in the post this season, good for 13th in the league among players with at least 100 possessions.  But among those players, Howard was 49th in efficiency, scoring .82 points per possession, a rate on par with Jordan Hill.  (Interestingly, James Harden scores .91 points per possession in the post)."

In the end, it matters not who deserves most of the blame because the entire team is at fault, and everyone in the organization probably could have done things better to make for a less depressing season. Hopefully, the changes this summer will allow those things to take place starting this October.

Send our Editor any Rockets-related article/video/tweet/gram/vine that we may have missed via Twitter direct message to @TTOTambz.

Next: Houston Rockets Continue Coaching Search

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