The Beard Loses Face

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Harden's performance last night and calling out of the officials this season, including his complaint that the presence of only two refs impacted this game's outcome (funny he didn't acknowledge the two silly techs that the Rockets benefitted from after PJ Tucker fell and the C's were called for a foul) will likely negatively impact his MVP chances.

To be clear, I like Harden and think his game, including his ability to get to the line, is brilliant. Furthermore, the guy is a leader in just about every stat that counts. However his recent performances on bigger stages coupled with his complaints have likely bolstered the case for LeBron and others.

At the end of the day, I am not someone who cares much about something like the MVP but its fascinating to see how those around the league keep trying to anoint a new "best player" only to find that they are simply not near as impactful as the actual best player in the game.
 

the moops

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Harden's performance last night and calling out of the officials this season, including his complaint that the presence of only two refs impacted this game's outcome (funny he didn't acknowledge the two silly techs that the Rockets benefitted from after PJ Tucker fell and the C's were called for a foul) will likely negatively impact his MVP chances.
No it won't
 

Eddie Jurak

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Harden's performance last night and calling out of the officials this season, including his complaint that the presence of only two refs impacted this game's outcome (funny he didn't acknowledge the two silly techs that the Rockets benefitted from after PJ Tucker fell and the C's were called for a foul) will likely negatively impact his MVP chances.
Not to mention Shane Larkin getting called for a foul for getting himself clotheslined.

Edit: Thanks for splitting this out and adding a great thread title.
 

DrewDawg

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Harden's performance last night and calling out of the officials this season, including his complaint that the presence of only two refs impacted this game's outcome (funny he didn't acknowledge the two silly techs that the Rockets benefitted from after PJ Tucker fell and the C's were called for a foul) will likely negatively impact his MVP chances.
Dude was like 7-27 last night. That wasn't because of refs.
 

lovegtm

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Harden's performance last night and calling out of the officials this season, including his complaint that the presence of only two refs impacted this game's outcome (funny he didn't acknowledge the two silly techs that the Rockets benefitted from after PJ Tucker fell and the C's were called for a foul) will likely negatively impact his MVP chances.

To be clear, I like Harden and think his game, including his ability to get to the line, is brilliant. Furthermore, the guy is a leader in just about every stat that counts. However his recent performances on bigger stages coupled with his complaints have likely bolstered the case for LeBron and others.

At the end of the day, I am not someone who cares much about something like the MVP but its fascinating to see how those around the league keep trying to anoint a new "best player" only to find that they are simply not near as impactful as the actual best player in the game.
Regardless of his MVP chances, I think it's a pretty clear indicator that he's not as mentally strong as other top players, which we already knew from last year's performance against the Spurs.

If it had just been him acting out after the game that would be one thing, but his mental state and frustration clearly caused him to be an idiot in the last 8 seconds.

It's very hard to imagine LeBron, Kawhi, Steph, or Durant melting down like that on or off the court.
 

lovegtm

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Not to mention Shane Larkin getting called for a foul for getting himself clotheslined.

Edit: Thanks for splitting this out and adding a great thread title.
Harden clearly doesn't have a ton of self-awareness, which is pretty much the opposite of Kyrie. Kyrie's approach seemed to be "welp, there's 2 refs, so some wacky shit is going to happen," which seems to have been a lot healthier.
 

Cellar-Door

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Harden is a guy who depends a ton on a friendly whistle. To an extent I don't think any NBA player I remember can match. He isn't that explosive, and he's actually not THAT big for his position when not playing the 1. It means he uses a lot of little pushes to get open on set plays, and his offense often relies heavily on crafty moves and drawing fouls.

It last night's game was against LeBron he just muscles and jumps his way to dunks, he posts up on the inbounds to use his size. Harden can't.

Also.... I hate the "mentally soft" tag, but if it's true of any star it is Harden, he gets frustrated easily and melts under pressure far too often.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Nice article from Jared Weiss about why those offensive foul calls were correct.

The first play could be categorized as a flop, but that is not mutually exclusive from an offensive foul. Smart wanted to make sure he got under Harden’s skin before the inbound, trying to generate a tension that would force Harden to give him a clear shove and sell the contact. So Smart starts by hugging Harden and getting him riled up.

When Harden gives him a push, Smart locks under Harden’s arm to force a big push off from the Beard. When it comes, Smart throws his head back, slips out a foot to sell it and goes down hard. Perfect flop. Legit foul. Winning effing play.
The second foul is essentially the same thing. Smart knows he can grapple in the final minute. So his goal is to say so tight into his opponent’s airspace and hold his ground so hard, that they have to push off to get any separation and he knows exactly when to go down.

Smart does not go down on the initial hit here. He knows it’s too obvious and he won’t get the call. His brilliance is in his patience, waiting for Harden to commit all his momentum into his territory. Smart puts his hands up and keeps trying to hold his ground until Harden steps under him. Then he takes the hit and goes down.
The video of the second call (at the link) makes it pretty clear - there was extended contact there, largely created by Harden, ending with an unneccessary shove. Harden was irritated, and lost his head.

I think that, the second time, if Smart had gone down at the initial contact, the ref would have let it go and Harden would have gotten the inbounds pass. But the fact that Harden takes his shot, Smart backs up, then Harden takes another shot... that was too much. And why the fuck didn't Harden just sidestep after Smart backed off the first time, creating a lane for the pass to go through? Probably because he was too fucking pissed off at that point.
 

Cellar-Door

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The guy is a beast. This seems way off regarding his explosiveness and size.
he's 6'5" 220 which is fine for a 2, but not particularly big. He's definitely not that explosive, unbelievably skilled for sure, but he's not a guy who blows by you or jumps over you on pure athleticism. It's a Pierce vs. T-Mac kind of thing
 

the moops

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I remember reading something odd about his athleticism in that he decelerates faster than anyone they have ever measured. Which does indeed seem like an odd thing, but it would explain how he gets so many open looks on his step back
 

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Harden is a guy who depends a ton on a friendly whistle. To an extent I don't think any NBA player I remember can match.
Agreed ... his whole game is predicated on junk moves that lure the defender into committing questionable fouls (see link). It was amusing to see the tables turned against him by Smart on this occasion.

 

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BaseballJones

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he's 6'5" 220 which is fine for a 2, but not particularly big. He's definitely not that explosive, unbelievably skilled for sure, but he's not a guy who blows by you or jumps over you on pure athleticism. It's a Pierce vs. T-Mac kind of thing
Not that explosive? I guess. But the guy gets by virtually any defender seemingly with ease all game long, night in and night out.

Agreed ... his whole game is predicated on junk moves that lure the defender into committing questionable fouls (see link). It was amusing to see the tables turned against him by Smart on this occasion.

His moves aren't "junk moves". He's an incredibly fundamentally sound player. Uses his eyes to move defenders, changes speeds beautifully, has a great jab step and step back, and has picture perfect shooting mechanics.

That's not junk. That's great use of fundamental skills.
 
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wilked

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Agreed. Anyone discounting his skills is off base. Yes he’s whiny. Yes a decent amount of his value is from drawing fouls. Yes he has nights where his shooting percentage is terrible and he leads the team in points

But he is amazing player and top 10 player in the league right now, and top 5 on most nights. He does a ton of things most players only dream of
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I don't get the Harden hate at all for all the reasons mentioned in BaseballJones and wilked's posts. Furthermore, his game shares a lot of similarities with a certain former Celtic and MBPC favorite who is about to have his number retired.

My posts upthread were simply reflecting some NBA radio chatter and a bunch of Tweets by NBA overnight by reporters/pundits/fans saying stuff like "not my MVP" etc. moops is probably correct in that this sentiment is fleeting too.

Finally, I know Harden now has a reputation for being soft or melting down in big moments and I don't think that is entirely fair. I think he has been on some pretty flawed squads in the past either in terms of less talent or lack of experience (or both). Let's see what his team does if they can head into the playoffs at full strength.

Of course, for Houston, that probably entails having Cole Perez/Oscar Martinez swaddle CP3 in bubble wrap until April but that is another thread entirely.
 

bosox79

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Agreed ... his whole game is predicated on junk moves that lure the defender into committing questionable fouls (see link). It was amusing to see the tables turned against him by Smart on this occasion.
Yeah, shooting over 39% from 3 on 10+ attempts a game has nothing to do with it. Never mind his play making ability. He's not Corey Maggette.
 

DrewDawg

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His moves aren't "junk moves". He's an incredibly fundamentally sound player. Uses his eyes to move defenders, changes speeds beautifully, has a great jab step and step back, and has picture perfect shooting mechanics.

That's not junk. That's great use of fundamental skills.
So you didn't watch the video? That's not really what it's talking about. It's talking about things like when he has the ball and goes around a pick and the defender fights through it and if there's *any* contact he immediately "shoots" a three pointer and points out that he was fouled 9 times in a single playoff series while taking three pointers, and 8 times were on these plays.

I mean, I personally wouldn't characterize what he does as "junk" moves, but the things the video talks about aren't the things you're talking about. That doesn't mean he doesn't possess those skills, but that's not the point of the video. It's akin to how the Baltimore Ravens used to essentially rely on getting pass interference calls on deep throws down the field. That doesn't mean the WR and QB don't have other skills, but that in these instances they were essentially taking advantage of the way the game is called. And that's what this video is doing.

I'm pretty sure no one here thinks Harden isn't ridiculously talented. But he's also a whiner and a flopper, and it came to a head last night.
 

Imbricus

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Not to mention Shane Larkin getting called for a foul for getting himself clotheslined.
This was maybe the worst foul call I've seen all year. Just amazing. This was like a "his neck ran into my sword blade, your honor."
 

BaseballJones

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Agreed ... his whole game is predicated on junk moves that lure the defender into committing questionable fouls (see link). It was amusing to see the tables turned against him by Smart on this occasion.

So you didn't watch the video? That's not really what it's talking about. It's talking about things like when he has the ball and goes around a pick and the defender fights through it and if there's *any* contact he immediately "shoots" a three pointer and points out that he was fouled 9 times in a single playoff series while taking three pointers, and 8 times were on these plays.

I mean, I personally wouldn't characterize what he does as "junk" moves, but the things the video talks about aren't the things you're talking about. That doesn't mean he doesn't possess those skills, but that's not the point of the video. It's akin to how the Baltimore Ravens used to essentially rely on getting pass interference calls on deep throws down the field. That doesn't mean the WR and QB don't have other skills, but that in these instances they were essentially taking advantage of the way the game is called. And that's what this video is doing.

I'm pretty sure no one here thinks Harden isn't ridiculously talented. But he's also a whiner and a flopper, and it came to a head last night.
Yes that's all true. Good point. I was responding to the line by Sox Puppet where he said, "his whole game is predicated on junk moves".
 

Eddie Jurak

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This is fake.
Bummer. In a better world, it would have been true.
So you didn't watch the video? That's not really what it's talking about. It's talking about things like when he has the ball and goes around a pick and the defender fights through it and if there's *any* contact he immediately "shoots" a three pointer and points out that he was fouled 9 times in a single playoff series while taking three pointers, and 8 times were on these plays.
Like IT, you mean? Harden does a lot of stuff that doesn't qualify as that, BTW. Look at the way he routinely blew by Horford (who can generally defend a point or a wing after a switch) early in the game, or that there is no one better in the league at finding teammates for uncontested spot up threes.

I'm open to the argument that his production is more based in skill than in pure athleticism, but I don't see any issues with that. Production is production. I'm also open to the argument that as star players go, he is more whiny than most and more easily rattled by Marcus Smart.

But let's not go pretending the guy is a fraud because he does something that all point guards who can shoot from three, and Marcus Smart, also do.
 

Jimbodandy

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Bummer. In a better world, it would have been true.
Like IT, you mean? Harden does a lot of stuff that doesn't qualify as that, BTW. Look at the way he routinely blew by Horford (who can generally defend a point or a wing after a switch) early in the game, or that there is no one better in the league at finding teammates for uncontested spot up threes.

I'm open to the argument that his production is more based in skill than in pure athleticism, but I don't see any issues with that. Production is production. I'm also open to the argument that as star players go, he is more whiny than most and more easily rattled by Marcus Smart.

But let's not go pretending the guy is a fraud because he does something that all point guards who can shoot from three, and Marcus Smart, also do.
His game is dependent on whistles. In actuality, it's a very efficient use of his skills. He's a fine free throw shooter. And of course he runs the break and sets up for his teammates. But it's the basketball equivalent at being good at drawing pass interference calls or free/penalty kicks in soccer. It helps his team win, but some folks save more of their respect for the guy who makes the tough catch/goal and doesn't need gifts from officials to do it.
 

Eddie Jurak

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His game is dependent on whistles. In actuality, it's a very efficient use of his skills. He's a fine free throw shooter. And of course he runs the break and sets up for his teammates. But it's the basketball equivalent at being good at drawing pass interference calls or free/penalty kicks in soccer. It helps his team win, but some folks save more of their respect for the guy who makes the tough catch/goal and doesn't need gifts from officials to do it.
Know who else has a game that is dependent on whistles? Isaiah Fucking Thomas.

Since 2015-16, Harden's per 36 minute average was 10.2 FTs/game, on a usage rate of 33.2. Over the same span, Thomas' er 36 minute average was 10.2 FTs/game, on slightly lower usage (31.2). Harden has also played more minutes and thus attempted more FTs. But, bottom line, IT is no less dependent on whistles. FTs accounted for 30% of Harden's points over that time frame (and 31% over his career). IT is at 26% since his first full season in Boston and 29% for his career.

I'll await your upcoming take on "it's OK for IT because he's vertically challenged" or "IT draws real fouls" or "IT and Harden are both bad for the game".
 

Jimbodandy

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Know who else has a game that is dependent on whistles? Isaiah Fucking Thomas.

Since 2015-16, Harden's per 36 minute average was 10.2 FTs/game, on a usage rate of 33.2. Over the same span, Thomas' er 36 minute average was 10.2 FTs/game, on slightly lower usage (31.2). Harden has also played more minutes and thus attempted more FTs. But, bottom line, IT is no less dependent on whistles. FTs accounted for 30% of Harden's points over that time frame (and 31% over his career). IT is at 26% since his first full season in Boston and 29% for his career.

I'll await your upcoming take on "it's OK for IT because he's vertically challenged" or "IT draws real fouls" or "IT and Harden are both bad for the game".
IT was my guy. That's different.

Also he didn't complain as much.
 

DrewDawg

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But let's not go pretending the guy is a fraud because he does something that all point guards who can shoot from three, and Marcus Smart, also do.
Quite sure I called him "ridiculously talented", but okay.

But no, they don't do it to the extent he does, and it's not close. Last season he was fouled on 108 of his three pointers, no one else was even half that. Three players fouled on over 10% of them, Harden was closer to 17%.

He generally waits until his man puts a hand up to defend, then locks arms with him and jumps to begin a shot, making the defender appear guilty. Harden basically forces perimeter defenders to play with their hands down along the 3-point line.
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/james-harden-gets-fouled-on-3s-more-than-any-nba-team/

Harden: 108 fouls on 647 attempts
Next 3: 96 fouls on 841 attempts

Curry was only fouled 22 times.
 

Bleedred

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I would say it is a pretty remakable skill to draw a foul that often on three point attempts. Amazing how some people knock him for it
This. Why the hell is Harden to be blamed for this? To make a mostly inapt analogy (but one that I think at least illustrates something we'd all admire) Marcus Smart has a tough, defensive reputation that may well have contributed to his drawing the 2 offensive fouls on Harden. Marcus Smart has cultivated that reputation and earned it, but there's no doubt that Marcus has been a big time flopper at times. Well, Harden has a reputation for drawing bullshit 3 point fouls by deliberately forcing a defender to foul him by baiting him with the up-fake/lean in crap. It's not all of what makes Harden great, but I'm at a loss to understand how the fact that he manages to get to the foul line on 3 pointers considerably more than anyone else in the NBA is a negative?
 

tbrown_01923

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The "play" by smart just prior to the two calls, while the ball was being brought under the hoop for the inbounds play is going understated.

On the first Marcus wrapped him up a bit prior to the ball being read for inbounds while the ref had his head turned - then released and immediately bodied him up leading to the shove. No too differently marcus was up in Hardens space immediately after the shot and harden shoved him away twice without a whistle right in front of the referee (they weren't fouls, but they were edging in that direction). In both cases there was a bit of a setup.

Once that ball is in Hardens hands there was no way of drawing a foul - he is going to get a shot off, and likely figure out a way to get fouled if it was anything other than a heave or the defender wasn't given a ton of space...
 

the moops

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In football, when the NFL changes rules in the off-season because of an edge gained by the Patriots, it is called genius coaching. Just saying :)
 

lars10

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One random guy tweets that this happened and it is not reported anywhere else. Do you think it is more likely true or not?
Cover up

Edit: my problem with Harden is if he doesn’t get a foul call he complains about it almost every possession. To the point where he doesn’t get back on D. I also understand that he’s not breaking any rules..but it’s like diving in soccer.. yes you gain an advantage by going down with any contact in the box, but I don’t have to respect a player that is constantly looking for that advantage.
 
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the moops

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It may well be, but how would we know besides your say-so?
There is also this tweet from the same guy. Seems like he just makes shit up in hopes of clicks

#NBA Celtics - Kelly Olynyk of the Miami Heat was very vocal getting on team airplane. “We out of this bum a** city! I bust they a** twice! Bums!”
 

InstaFace

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There is also this tweet from the same guy. Seems like he just makes shit up in hopes of clicks

#NBA Celtics - Kelly Olynyk of the Miami Heat was very vocal getting on team airplane. “We out of this bum a** city! I bust they a** twice! Bums!”
Fair.
 

lovegtm

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I hate when things I want to be true aren't true.

I think the "Harden is a great player but I don't like watching him" critique is a year or two out of date. He's been really entertaining for the past year at least, full stop.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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I think the "Harden is a great player but I don't like watching him" critique is a year or two out of date. He's been really entertaining for the past year at least, full stop.
Except that his playoff meltdown last season is still fresh in everybody's mind. He's a great player, but... Is there anybody else of his stature that has ever done that all-time poorly with things on the line?
 

lovegtm

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Except that his playoff meltdown last season is still fresh in everybody's mind. He's a great player, but... Is there anybody else of his stature that has ever done that all-time poorly with things on the line?
Yup, I critiqued that meltdown heavily early on the thread. I was referring to people saying that while Harden's game was effective, it wasn't aesthetically appealing, which was a common trope for a couple years.
 

the moops

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Except that his playoff meltdown last season is still fresh in everybody's mind. He's a great player, but... Is there anybody else of his stature that has ever done that all-time poorly with things on the line?
Only cause I was curious

Dennis Johnson Game 7 1978 finals, 0-14, 4 points
Dirk Nowitzki Game 6 2007 playoffs, 2-13, 8 points
Karl Malone Game 6 1999 playoffs, 3-16, 8 points
 

JohnnyTheBone

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Only cause I was curious

Dennis Johnson Game 7 1978 finals, 0-14, 4 points
Dirk Nowitzki Game 6 2007 playoffs, 2-13, 8 points
Karl Malone Game 6 1999 playoffs, 3-16, 8 points
Kobe Bryant - Game 7 2010 Finals - 6-24, 0-6 from 3, 23 points (15 free throws, Celtics attempted 17 as a team)