When: Saturday, March 7th, 5:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV
The Hornets are finishing off a stretch of five tough games tonight as they prepare to square off against the Houston Rockets. After facing the Toronto Raptors (win) and Milwaukee Bucks (loss), the teams with the two best records in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets hosted the struggling San Antonio Spurs (loss) then a very good Denver Nuggets team (a close loss). Three of the Hornets last four opponents are among the best teams in the league and now here comes James Harden. Fortunately for the Hornets, it looks like Russell Westbrook will be sitting this one out.
I’m glad I get to write this game preview because it gives me a public forum to air my grievances about the style of basketball James Harden plays. This is just my personal opinion and I’m not saying I’m right. You can disagree with me and we can still be friends, but I just can’t watch the Rockets play basketball because I don’t find it entertaining to watch James Harden shoot free throws.
Professional basketball is entertainment, and there’s nothing enjoyable for me watching James Harden attempt nearly 12 free throws per game, on average. The Beard has attempted 15 or more free throws in 16 games this year, including his February 4th game contest against Charlotte when he went 14 of 15 from the line. I don’t mind Houston’s analytics approach that prioritizes layups and open corner three-pointers. That’s just smart basketball. But having Harden actively hunting for free throws by seeking contact, flailing his arms, falling down, clutching his head, checking his body for scratches/blood, etc. is just, well, boring. Everything Harden does is legal, but it’s boring, at least to me. In full disclosure, I’m an avid fantasy basketball player and I drafted Harden with the first overall pick in my league’s draft this year. But even as a fantasy basketball owner who’s fully invested in James Harden’s statistical success, I just can’t watch him play. Free throws are boring, and Harden is the free throw king of the NBA. (Rant over. Feel free to add “old man yells at cloud” gifs in the comments.)
The Houston Rockets are arguably the most unique team in the NBA. They go super small at times with 6-foot-5 PJ Tucker at center. They surround Harden and Westbrook (when healthy) with spot-up three-point shooters, and it’s working. Houston had won 10 of 12 games before dropping their last two. Keep an eye tonight on new acquisition Robert Covington who joined the Rockets 11 games ago and has averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds with decent three-point shooting (35 percent) and solid perimeter defense.
As for the Hornets, let’s see how Caleb Martin and Cody Martin continue to progress. The brothers have been taking more prominent roles in this their rookie seasons. Cody has posted averages of 8.0 points (on solid 50 percent shooting) and a versatile 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists over his last six games, which is encouraging for a first-year player who was drafted in the second round. Caleb, meanwhile, is establishing himself on the roster after shuffling between the Hornets and the Greensboro Swarm this year. Over his last six games Caleb has averaged 6.6 points (on a ho-hum 43 percent shooting) and 3.4 rebounds per game, which is solid production for an undrafted rookie.
What do you think about watching James Harden shoot 12 free throws per game?
This poll is closed
It’s awful. I can hardly watch the games.
It’s fine. Just part of the game.
Love it! He’s smart to do it.