The Not-MVP: James Harden Shooting 22%

Heat 109, Rockets 89

Three games in and everyone has forgotten.

James Harden’s brilliant year last season when he single handedly wrestled the Rockets into the Western Conference Finals is buried in some past archive. That Harden nearly snagged a MVP award is an abstraction that doesn’t really matter. He didn’t win. And as transcendent an experience as it was for Harden to have his game rise to a brilliant level, and whatever hangover may remain from losing to Steph Curry in the MVP voting, Harden is the only one carrying the memory. For the rest of us that was so last season. We’ve forgotten most of it.

It’s what are you doing right now that matters and right now Harden is the worst he has ever been. With the Rockets in a 0-2 hole all Harden did in Miami tonight was go 0–10 from the three point line. He made 2-7 non-three point shots. He did his traditional orchestration of marching to the free throw line. In fact, the free throw line where no one is guarding him seems to be his only refuge these days. It ‘s the only shot Harden can seemingly make.

Reflexively, when you bring Harden’s name up and list his woes, it’s fashionable and humorous to blame the Kardashians as the ones holding the knife. Harden, is just one more athlete getting screwed over by the publicity addictive family, people want to believe. First it was Reggie Bush. Then Lamar Odom. Then Kris Humphries. Now it is James Harden.

While that is very gossipy, the apologists will point to the absence of Dwight Howard. But, Harden played fine the year Howard was in Los Angeles. And Howard played on Friday night and Harden’s offense was still on vacation.

His numbers so far:

  • Wednesday vs. Nuggets: 28%, 16% from three
  • Friday vs. Warriors: 22%, 10% from three
  • Saturday vs. Heat: 13%, 0% from the thee point line

In three games James Harden has made exactly 12 shots.

Let’s put that into perspective. Old man river Kobe Bryant has made 16 shots in 3 games. A shot depressed Derrick Rose has made 19 shots in 4 games. But all Harden can manage is 12 shots? His three point game, always Harden’s bread and butter, is atrocious.

Is this just a slump or is it something more? On the plus side, it’s just three games. But the schedule only gets tougher and more complicated with the Rockets playing Oklahoma City tomorrow night and Harden returns to where it started for him. After, OKC, there is a break and the Rockets only have to deal with one playoff team (Clippers) in eight games after the Thunder. But that’s a moot point if Harden can’t shoot. It won’t matter who the Rockets play. He is their best player and he has to produce and play better or else this season will be a complete disaster. Come tomorrow night the Rockets may have the worst record in the Western Conference at 0-4.

James Harden is no one’s MVP.

photo via Wikimedia.org