1. James Harden
It’s been an interesting year for the bearded one. He’s still leading the NBA in scoring, averaging four more points per game then number two on the list, Bradley Beal. He’s also number one on the team in assists and steals, all while being one of the best interior defenders on the team.
Despite all of that, though, even the most diehard of Rockets’ fans have been expressing frustration with Harden’s play lately. While he’s done a decent job of limiting his excessive dribbling followed by stepback jumpers or contested threes during some stretches, he’s been reverting back to that more in the last few games.
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The results have been poor shooting nights and wasted possessions that the Houston Rockets can’t afford as they continue to try to keep up with the rest of the West.
As it stands, Harden is shooting almost exclusively threes and shots at the rim. He’s taken only 16 shots from mid-range this season, which essentially amounts to about one attempt every three games.
James has had success in his limited attempts, connecting on nine of those for 56.3 percent. He’s shooting the mid-range shot at a better rate than everyone else on the team that has taken at least two from that area.
Harden is certainly capable of knocking down the toughest of 3-pointers at any given time, but it’s no secret that he goes for the knockout punch longball too often when he could easily slip past his man and get an easier look from a few feet closer.
James has just about every offensive weapon in his arsenal, including a deadly floater from the paint. If he’s able to start mixing in some mid-range shots with regularity, he can make things easier for himself and the Rockets as a whole. Sometimes his bad misses from far outside can totally kill the team’s momentum and cause droughts on the offensive end.
Good players evolve with the game, and great players never stop evolving. It’s time for James Harden to vary his offensive game even more so that he can really keep opponents guessing all game long.