James Harden is a superstar by almost any objective measurement. He’s spent the year scoring at will, flattening the intrigue out of close games by turning them into blowouts, demoralizing and humiliating some of the best defenders in the word, unofficially establishing himself as one of the league’s 12 best players, and officially starting in his first All-Star game in a ridiculously deep Western Conference.
He’s a one-man stampede in transition, a volcanic eruption waiting to happen whenever isolated on the perimeter, and only two or three guys make scoring points in the NBA look easier. If sandpaper and velvet had a baby, Harden is how that baby would play basketball. His signature step back jumper is so deadly and beautiful, it makes you want to blow air kisses at a complete stranger.
His game is tough and elegant, and combines all the boring elements of an assembly line with the pure adrenaline rush that accompanies gravity-defying dunks, courageous forays into the paint, and pull up transition threes that don’t make a lick of sense until white nylon starts to dance above the rim. Read More
I looked at the West standings this past Sunday, noting that at that point in time, things stood as the most favorable layout for a Houston Rockets trip to the Finals. The problem is that with Portland in all-out free-fall mode, I don’t see things holding course.
Posted in columns Tagged Huq's Pen
Yes, we believe in these—some of us do, anyway. In all likelihood, your propensity to dub a loss as a victory in the “moral” department is greatly exacerbated by your emotional proximity to the team of discussion. When we put our pride in other men and they’ve handled it wrong, this distinction gives is something literary, something weighty-but-not-quantifiable to make peace with in face of the oppressive Win-Loss binary, staring us down and telling us No.
But what of Moral Losing (alternately known as Immoral Winning)—victories undeserved, in which said binary failed the team’s fans by not ensuring a lesson would be learned from the match, which the hometown Losers now get to pat themselves on the back about, riding the floss-thin wire of their fateful escape?
Who’s doing what this season, in terms of these metrics; known heretofore as MV% and ML%?
Posted in columns Tagged On the NBA
The crew of Hickory-High got together for a roundtable discussion on which matchups were the best/worst case scenario for some of the Western Conference contenders. The Rockets had near-unanimous agreement on their scenarios.
Kraetsch: Best case is Blazers as neither team will care that they are giving up tons of points and Houston will thrive against a team not interested in stopping them from scoring. Worst case is easily the Clippers who have won all three matchups and are not only a team that will tear up a lacking Houston defense.
One writer opined that Golden State would be the ideal scenario for Houston in Round 1, while another decided the Warriors would be a dreadful matchup for Houston.
Personally, I like the standings the way they are. Portland does what Houston does, but across the board they just can’t matchup with the Rockets. The Portland backcourt has no one as talented as James Harden, their frontcourt cannot contain Dwight Howard and no one on the Blazers bench is as impactful as Omer Asik. As for Golden State, the Rockets would still be favored over the Warriors (although, Jalen Rose would disagree) but Steph Curry’s shooting and Andre Iguodala’s defense is enough to make anyone nervous. No offense to Portland, but Damian Lillard isn’t there yet and Wes Matthews and Nic Batum have never drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen.
Isn’t he just the best? -
Some interesting thoughts have been popping up in the forum and on Twitter in reference to our dialogue on these pages regarding Carmelo Anthony. First, the most common reasoning I’ve seen espoused in opposition to an Anthony pursuit involves the “no midrange” philosophy with the thinking being that because Anthony shoots too many midrange shots, he’s inefficient and thus, not a good fit on this team. It’s important to address this.
For some time now, I have been of a minority opinion regarding the philosophy in that its not that I don’t see its merits but rather, I don’t wholeheartedly buy in. My theory, which unfortunately I do not have the math skills to be able to quantify, is that the soundest way to build a system–and thus, at a micro level, a player–is by focus upon rimshots and 3′s, with mere avoidance of midrange shots rather than complete and total abandonment of the area. The philosophy is a great way to lift a 37 win team to 45 wins or an All-Star to superstar status; but I don’t think, if using it, a 56 win team can win a title, nor do I think an All-Star can lift his play to ‘all-time great’ status.