It’s tough handling the spotlight when you’re the cornerstone of a franchise like Rockets shooting guard James Harden. The Beard has taken some lumps over the last year for his sub-par defense, and more evidence of his brain farts on that end of the court were revealed during the championship of the FIBA World Cup today against Serbia.
First, comes his inability to rotate for Kyrie’s man when the latter got caught off on a high screen. You can see him jump to grab the Serbian player, but still stay away. The result is basically a layup for Serbia.
Then there’s this possession where he gets totally lost and ends up at the top of the key with an open Serbian under the basket. He tries to recover, but it’s too late.
This isn’t the first instance of Harden’s defensive foibles during the two-week tournament in Spain, even though the Americans are dominating the opposition.
Early in the second quarter against Lithuania in the semifinal round, Harden gets abused on the low block, so much so that Mike Francesco — perhaps over-stating his skills — says after watching this play, “I could have scored there.”
The worst part of these sequences for Harden, aside from some light Internet mockery, is they came after a report in training camp Harden’s defense was impressing coaches.