James Harden did it again.
On a routine transition play in last night’s win over the New York Knicks, the Houston Rockets star essentially threw his hands up on the defensive end. If not less.
Though it might be the latest of a series of lowlights for a guy who’s seemed to care little about defense, the play has been the exception, not the rule this season.
In fact, Harden is not only arguably a good defensive player in 2014-15, he might be the NBA’s best.
According to two top measures for contribution on defense, Harden, 25, is one of the league’s elite this year. His 96.6 defensive rating ranks eighth, one slot ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies’ defensive-minded Tony Allen, and his 1.1 defensive win shares are most, and better than in-the-middle stoppers in Marc Gasol (Memphis) and Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs).
Today’s defensive stats are far from perfect, but they’re the best we have, and in general tend to align pretty closely with the eye test, another flawed approach to determining ability.
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