James Harden‘s offense is the polar opposite of what he brings to the defensive side of basketball.
Often he’s hidden on defense as players such as Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia take up the task of guarding the opposite team’s best offensive players. But last night against the Los Angeles Clippers there was no chance for hiding as was forced to guard either Jared Dudley or J.J. Redick, both whom thrive on off-ball movement to create open looks.
And boy was Harden terrible. In the beginning moments of the fourth quarter when the game was relatively close, Kevin Mchale opted to keep Harden on the bench rather than on the floor when the team needed someone to create enough offense to keep up with Chris Paul and company. His reasoning was the game getting out of hand before he had a chance to insert his starters, but I’m going to assume that’s his way of blaming Harden’s defense for keeping him on the bench without mentioning his stars name and stirring up trouble.
YouTube user ‘How U’ put together a compilation of plays where Harden’s lack of effort on defense was on the forefront.
The affect that perimeter defense has on a team’s overall defense is minimal, but when the defense is played at the level of what Harden displayed in the video, it hurts everything the team is doing. Look at these photos.
He isn’t even trying. In the NBA everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but Harden isn’t putting forth an effort to keep up with Redick or Dudley. Looking at the number of superstars or those close to it, there isn’t a player with as big a gap between their offense and defense (or vice-versa) as Harden.
You have to wonder if teams will begin to use this as a blueprint to keep Harden tired on the offensive end or on the bench. He attributed the team being sluggish as reason for giving up 130-plus points, but a lot of it had to do with his inability (or lack of effort) to defend. Hopefully Harden switches things up from this point on because this is flat out embarrassing.