Why Warriors' Steph Curry should chuckle at James Harden's complaining


Why Warriors' Steph Curry should chuckle at James Harden's complaining

Do the Rockets ever stop complaining?

The same franchise that used faulty math as the basis of a memo to the league in which it argued that officiating cost Houston the 2018 championship was back at it again Friday night, and some of the same principal offenders were at the center of the controversy.

No, not Rockets GM Daryl Morey. He has been in enough hot water as it is.

Instead, I'm referring to James Harden, who continues to only have himself to blame for the fact that his playing style isn't as enjoyed by the masses as some of his contemporaries.

The flopping, kicking, flailing and bending of the rules is annoying enough, but made worse by the fact that he gets away with it more often than not. This season, Harden is averaging 38.3 points per game, 8.0 more than anyone else in the league. He is also averaging 14.4 free-throw attempts per contest; there's only one other NBA player in double-digits, and only eight averaging at least half as many attempts. Put simply, he might not get all of the calls that he deserves -- no one does -- but he gets a friendlier whistle than almost anyone else.

And to Harden's credit, it wasn't the officiating that was at the center of his voiced complaint Friday night after the Rockets' last-minute loss to the Clippers -- although Houston didn't waste an opportunity to point out an apparent infraction by Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers. No, it wasn't the officiating that Harden thought was unfair; rather, it was the ... defense?

Harden dished out 12 assists in the loss to go along with his game-high 37 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. Consequently, the Clippers threw numerous double-teams at him to try to limit his effectiveness and get the ball out of his hands -- you know, as defenses do. And even then, there were times when he caught fire and Los Angeles had no answer for him, no matter how many bodies were thrown at him. But apparently, that didn't sit well with Harden.

"The whole season they’re running doubles teams at me," Harden told media in the locker room. "I’ve never seen that in an NBA game where you’ve got really good defenders and someone else running at the top of the key. Y’all let me know the last time you’ve seen that."

All right, who wants to tell him?

By the looks of the responses to that tweet, it appears many have already done so. The last time we've seen that? Really?

The Warriors have knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including twice in the conference finals. It would be understandable if it was too painful for Harden to then watch the NBA Finals, but he can't act like they didn't happen.

Need I remind you that Toronto utilized a 'Box-and-one' defense against Golden State in the Finals, a kind of defense that is sparingly used even at the collegiate level. The Raptors assigned one player to chase Steph Curry at all times while the rest of the team played a zone defense. He was never left alone, and it proved to be a very effective defensive strategy.

And it's not like that's the only instance. Far from it. Curry, like most NBA superstars, frequently has been doubled, just as Harden is now. The difference is, Curry, nor any of the NBA greats, ever complained about it, and why would they? After all, it's a sign of respect.

Harden has been to the Finals once with the Thunder, and who knows, he and the Rockets might get back there with the Warriors at least temporarily out of the way.

[RELATED: Warriors, resigned to their fate, smart to be looking ahead]

But as long as he and Houston continue to act like they're getting the short end of the stick, they're not going to get much sympathy.

Nor should they.

Andrew Wiggins-Steph Curry duo's potential shown in Warriors NBA 2K sim

Andrew Wiggins-Steph Curry duo's potential shown in Warriors NBA 2K sim

Editor’s note: With the NBA season halted over coronavirus concerns, Warriors fans have unanswered questions about the team and how it’s building toward the future. To provide answers, NBC Sports Bay Area will simulate some previously scheduled Warriors games through NBA 2K, mixing video-game results with real-life insights for our coverage team.

Even amid the NBA season suspension due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Wiggins enters the spring as the Warriors' biggest question mark.

A former No. 1 overall draft pick, Wiggins' potential drops jaws, while his inconsistency is head-scratching. Upon arrival, the Warriors believed his ability would bode well alongside Steph Curry and the team's culture.

In a simulation of the March 28 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder using NBA 2K20, Wiggins showed promise towards that goal in a 117-110 loss.

In the digital confines, Wiggins finished with 35 points, getting most of his buckets within the flow of the Warriors' motion offense.

"I think he really fits well," Draymond Green said of Wiggins last month. "As seamless as it could possibly be, I think he can fit right in. He can score the basketball, he can run the wings, he's a pretty good defender. So I think he'll definitely fit in with this core for a long time."

Similar performances weren't as consistent during Wiggins' first four seasons in Minnesota. Wiggins didn't live up to the expectations that come with being a franchise player. His offensive inconsistency quickly drew the ire of NBA observers. Worse, Wiggins became one of the worst defenders in the league, even after he signed a five-year, $145 million contract.

Nonetheless, the Warriors saw potential in the 25-year old, trading former All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell, along with Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman, in part to pair Wiggins with Curry. In the 2K simulation, the pairing worked, as the tandem combined for 62 points on the night.

The performance was consistent with Wiggins' lone real-world game alongside the former MVP. Against the Raptors back on March 5, the duo combined for 44 points in Curry's return from a broken left hand.

Curry's first highlight against the Raptors came with the help of his Canadian teammate, when he took a dribble in the lane, drew a double-team and fired a behind the back pass to Wiggins in the lane, leading to an easy layup, surprising Wiggins in the process.

"I didn't even know it was coming, really," Wiggins admitted after the loss to the Raptors. "I was kind of watching like it may come, but then when he went behind the back I was just trying to catch it. It was a hell of a pass."

"I'm very excited," Wiggins added. "He's an MVP player, one of the greats. He helped transition the game with his 3s and how fast he plays. So, I'm excited."

[RELATED: How Steph perform in Warriors-Hawks sim]

Wiggins' virtual performance Saturday coincided with his strong play during his short stint in the Bay Area. In his last five games, he averaged 20 points on 46 percent shooting from the field. If Wiggins continues to build on his current play, the Warriors will see the potential they've wanted all along, making for an intriguing process Wiggins says he's ready for.

"I feel like I've adjusted well," Wiggins told NBC Sports Bay Area earlier in March. "I've never played with anyone as good as him. By far, he's the best player that I've played with. Just getting a chance to learn from him and feeding off him and just learning."

Watch every Steph Curry 3-pointer with Warriors from 30 feet and beyond

Watch every Steph Curry 3-pointer with Warriors from 30 feet and beyond

Today is the 30th day in March.

Warriors superstar Steph Curry wears No. 30.

Obviously, that means you should watch every single 3-pointer the two-time NBA MVP has made in his career from 30 feet and beyond.

Thank you to our friends at the Warriors for making this possible:

You watched all 87, right? What's your favorite?

Is it the famous 37-footer against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 27, 2016? What about the 62-footer he swished at the end of the third quarter in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies?

[RELATED: What separates Steph Curry as favorite among all Bay Area MVP athletes]

There just are so many incredible ones to choose from.

Now go spend 10 more minutes watching all 87 again ...

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