This is incredibly concerning. As outlined above, it appears that James Harden this season is shooting 25.5% overall when defended by Andre Roberson, and 11% on 3’s.
It also appears he has not even made a single field goal in the paint when defended by Roberson. Its also interesting that Harden’s usage skyrockets to 55.8% with Roberson on the bench, up from 30.4% when sharing the court.
One can understand why I’d be concerned heading into this afternoon’s matchup with the Thunder – Andre Roberson has been a problem for the Rockets when defending James Harden. My concern does not solely pertain to the game’s outcome itself, but for the ramifications upon the MVP race. As I’ve stated, I care a lot about this race, surprisingly more than a large segment of my readership. And we saw after Houston’s loss to San Antonio, highlighted by the game-saving block by Kawhi Leonard (post-Gasol foul) on James Harden, a big portion of the mainstream media suffers collectively from recency bias. Almost as much as narratives, people like ‘images’, and a big game from Westbrook today could go a long way towards solidifying his dubious MVP claim. (I, of course, have written at lengths regarding my opinion on the laugh-ability of Westbrook’s candidacy, one built upon the strength of our community’s ’round-number’ fetishization).
I’ve noted several times in the past–an observation which I don’t have the time right now to support empirically–that James Harden almost always seems to figure out defenders who give him trouble, a point which speaks to his overall basketball intelligence. Despite being the slovenly bum he’s portrayed as, this is someone who obviously spends a great deal of time watching film, and learning from defensive tendencies. If not today, I expect Harden to eventually figure out Roberson too, the way he has with other individuals.