“I mean, I was just shooting, I don’t really know,” Harden said. “I don’t pay too much attention to it.”
James Harden had offensive rating 160 that makes his performance against Utah Jazz one of the most impressive offensive performances in history of NBA. (True Shooting % – 92.5%!)
As lot of NBA fans know Houston Rockets is known as the team who is leading NBA in 3-point attempts per game (44.5 per game) and has one of the best offenses in NBA – Offensive rating 110.8 (4th).
3-Point Attempt Rate % – 53.4% (3-points shots of total shots) is far ahead of other teams in league. If Harden and other shooters like Gordon, Ariza, Anderson and Tucker has great shooting night, they can easily reach 120+ in the game.
Despite before the game against Rockets Utah Jazz was the “slowest” team (Pace: 97.52) and 3rd best defense only allowed 98.6 points per 100 possessions + the best in Paint Defense (before the game with Houston) it didn’t stop The Beard to get lot of easy buckets, especially lay-ups.
HOW JAMES HARDEN SCORED HIS 56 POINTS?
Total 56 = three-points 21, midrange 8, lay-ups 16, free-throws 11.
Total 56 = Inside Paint 33 (almost Utah average allowed per game, that was the leagues high!), Outside Paint 23.
Overall Houston Rockets do not play complicated offense, Harden usually initiates offense by playing 1vs1, PNR or passing to teammate to the wing or coming off the screen. The most of time there are 3 great shooters on the floor (+ him) waiting outside behind three-point line and Capela or Nene who are setting screens and waiting for alley-oop or boumce pass after perimeter players drive to the basket.
18 of 56 (including free-throws) points were scored of Pick-and-Roll situations + Harden also dished out 13 assists, accounting for 91 of Houston’s 137 points.
Utah Jazz PNR defense definitely wasn’t the best defending player who scored 56 points.
HIGH PICK AND ROLL defense on Harden
- FLAT (most of the time trying to force Harden away from the screen if possible, not every time to weak hand).
Having tall and not that quick screener’s defender Gobert, it’s not good option to “hard hedge”, especially knowing Harden’s ability to find open team-mates. Gobert having very tall hands also can give little bit more ground while on-ball should play aggressive on-ball defense.
When Favors or Udoh are much quicker so they can play higher and be more active but most of the time Nene or Capela rolled very quickly to the basket and all was left for Harden to find an open teammate.
Also Rockets big guys Nene and Capela are not big threat from outside. Sometimes the screener was Ariza.
Having great 3-point shooting night (scored his first 7 3-pointers) is the key of being effective while playing pick-and-roll!
Harden’s response most of the time: easy lay-up or floater! He used to attack by changing the direction in the gap what was left by X5 “snake” the screen or also “shielding” his defender.
2. SWITCH. Every time Favors, Udoh or Gobert was left 1vs1 against Harden there was step-back three, drive to the basket and 2 points, foul or drive-kick… Bad option this time…
SIDE PICK AND ROLL defense on Harden
- ICE (not letting ball handler to the middle)
- TRAP (2 players on the ball).
1 VS 1
JAMES HARDEN probably is one of the best if not the best 1vs1 player in the world. His ability to create his own shot is amazing.
20 of 56 (including free-throws after 1vs1 situations) points were scored in 1vs1 situations. Switch after PNR, switch in transition, or simply playing 1vs1 against his defender.
Few times he scored just simply dribbling from coast-to-coast…
Since Harden is left handed he asked to 5 to go to another side of the court so he can have more room if he decides to attack to left.
JAMES HARDEN loves to use:
DRIBBLE BETWEEN the LEGS + CROSSOVER … CROSS OVER + STEP BACK ;
DRIBBLE BETWEEN the LEGS + CROSSOVER (fast) + DRIBBLE BETWEEN the LEGS + CROSSOVER (slow) + STEP-BACK (fast).
CROSSOVER + DRIBBLE BETWEEN the LEGS + CROSSOVER + STEP-BACK.
Fast-slow, slow-fast, stop-fast, fast-stop… change of pace and instinct is his strength!
4 of 56 points off opponents turnovers, 2vs1.
2 of 56 points post-up
8 of 56 assisted. Since he tends to have the ball in his hands most of the time and create opportunities for himself or team-mates, he doesn’t score too many points after being assisted.
8 off the catch, 37 off the dribble.
Houston offense this game was simple but effective – “give the ball to James Harden”. One of few set-plays of this game:
- HARDEN IS THE ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED OFFENSIVE PLAYERS NOWADAYS IN THE GAME. His ability to create his own shot allows to play more simple offense.
- He can score from anywhere on the court
- Knows where’s his team-mates.
- Great ability to change the pace.
- Knows how to show referee if he is fouled 🙂
- High basketball IQ
- If he has good outside shooting day he can be almost impossible to guard without help of other defenders.
- Puts lot of pressure in transition to defenders.
If he has great shooting night…. the most effective offense is just to give the ball to HARDEN ! 🙂
KRISTIANS @ abouthegame.com