We've been over this here before, but now one of the Rockets players is talking about it publicly as well. There was simply no excuse to snub James Harden from all three of the All-NBA teams this season.
Former Rockets point guard and new Sirius XM radio host Jason Terry appeared yesterday on sports radio 910, telling the Triple Threat and host Matt Hammond how he really felt about Harden's omission.
"James is doing his job, man. Look at all the stats he put up. It's a travesty that he wasn't on any of the All-NBA teams. Just utter disappointment. They need to redo how they make these selections."
Terry went on to even defend Harden's notorious defensive slip this season, echoing another sentiment we've talked about here at TDS in regards to the now-infamous Beard compilation videos and vines. You can cherry pick just about any player's worst defensive moments and come up with similar videos.
"I can show you as many James Harden clips of a guy going back door on him as I can show you Steph Curry clips where he quits on play or a guy just blows right by him."
And it's true. Basketball is a long season with hundreds if not thousands of plays. A compilation of anyone's worst moments are going to look bad.
But that's not to say Harden's defensive slippage wasn't real. It was. But take a look at one of the players who made the list over Harden, one that I personally have the biggest beef with, Klay Thompson.
Thompson had a great year as a shooter, knocking down a career-high 22.1 points per game on an also career-high 47.0 percent shooting from the field. He was top-notch from deep as well, draining 42.5 percent of his threes. But when it came to the other counting stats, it mostly a barren wasteland for Thompson.
He finished the year averaging 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.8 steals per game. Hardly the stuff of which All-NBA teams are made.
As a comparison (not that we need to repeat this again), The Beard averaged 29.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.7 steals. His 44.0 percent shooting from the field and his 35.9 percent from beyond the arc did trail Thompson, but his usage percentage was also significantly higher (32.5 to 26.3) and The Beard has never been confused for the pure shooter that Thompson is.
Well, it's got to be about the defense then, right? After all, Harden regressed. Well, so did Thompson.
James Harden's defensive plus-minus dropped from a +1.0 last year to a -0.4 this year. Thompson? He dropped from a -1.0 to a -2.2. So not only was Klay's regression in that category almost identical to Harden's, his defensive plus-minus was a full 1.8 worse than Harden's overall.
Both players finished 2016 with 2.6 defensive win-shares, with Harden's down from his career-high of 4.2 the year before, and Thompson's down from 3.1 the year before. Both of these guys were below-average defenders this past season. Harden's being punished for it, while Thompson's being rewarded.
Next, Harden dominates Thompson in some of other advanced metric categories. In overall win shares, The Beard finished with 13.3 while Thompson had 8.0. Harden's 6.9 value over replacement dwarfs Thompson's 1.8, and I don't think there's any question which player was more valuable to their team this season. Without Thompson, the Warriors still win 60-plus games. Without Harden, the Rockets could easily be picking third in this year's draft.
There is, of course, always those boatload of Harden turnovers (4.6 per game and a new record for single-season total turnovers), whereas Thompson only turned it over 1.7 times per game. It's important to note, however, that The Beard's assist-to-turnover rate of 1.6 to 1 was higher than Thompson's 1.2 to 1.
We may be beating a bit of a dead horse here at TDS, but the further removed we get from the season and the closer we look at individual performances, the more inexplicable Harden's exclusion becomes. It's nice to hear someone finally saying it to the mainstream media.