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Rockets: Why Jimmy Butler doesn’t care if James Harden travels

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 3: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on November 3, 2019 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 3: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on November 3, 2019 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler doesn’t want to hear anything about Houston Rockets superstar James Harden traveling.

It’s no secret that Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is one of the most difficult players to defend in league history. Harden has a plethora of methods to score, and he has the court vision to punish defenses for double teaming him, which we’ve seen on numerous occasions.

Harden also has a textbook understanding of the rulebook, which has been frustrating for those tasked with defending him. Harden knows how to initiate contact and get to the free throw line, which makes it nearly unstoppable to prevent him from getting to the charity stripe, as outlined by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

LeBron James on defending James Harden: "James is probably one of the best offensive players we've ever seen in this league. We're trying to not put him on the free throw line and he's so clever that he still was able to get 20 free throw attempts."

— Anthony Duckett (@a_duckett) September 11, 2020

Harden also has the stepback 3-pointer, which is nearly automatic, and he’s not afraid to resort to it throughout the game. Many have argued that Harden travels on his stepback shot, although the rulebook states otherwise. For those, Harden’s success on his signature move is discredited because they feel the shot shouldn’t count anyways.

Why Jimmy Butler doesn’t want to hear about Harden traveling

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler isn’t buying that notion, as the degree of difficulty on the shot is so high that Butler believes it shouldn’t matter. Butler stated his case on the Knuckleheads podcast produced by The Players Tribune.

“First of all, I don’t give a fu- if that man travels or not. That’s still a tough shot to hit. Let’s get that out of the way. Double or triple stepbacks, I don’t care. A stepback from three as far as he shoots anyways is tough.”

Butler isn’t the only person to speak about the difficulty of Harden’s stepback shot, as Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey previously stated that he was initially worried that the shot was too tough because Harden’s momentum is going away from the basket.

Harden made 36.9 percent of his step-back 3-pointers during the regular season, which is higher than the 35.5 percent clip that he made on his total threes. Harden also made 36.1 percent of his step-back treys during the postseason, which is better than his 2020 postseason 3-point average of 33.3 percent.

Although Butler was seeking to kill the narrative about Harden traveling, the narrative was formed by the media, and we know how they permanently latch on to narratives, regardless of whether they’re wrong or not. This is especially true about Harden, as the media loves to hate him, for one reason or another.

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For that reason we shouldn’t expect the discussion about Harden traveling to die down anytime soon, in spite of Butler’s endorsement.

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