Player of the Week:
James Harden- The Rockets played five games this week, but James Harden still managed to bring his best all week. He averaged 29.2 points per game, despite a subpar showing at the Warriors with only 17 points. In fact, without that game, he would have averaged 32.3 ppg. He started off with a triple-double in the Rockets’ win over Brooklyn last Sunday (22 points, 11 assists, 12 rebounds). But just two days later, he topped that performance by going for 40 points, along with 10 assists and 12 rebounds, despite the Rockets losing to Miami. Much of his success came from shooting 48% from the field, and 93% from the line on 9 attempts per game. However, many people will still point to James Harden’s lackluster defense as his glaring weakness. Harden’s defensive real plus minus is -1.54, which is below average, but not awful. By contrast, Kyrie Irving’s DRPM is -1.76, and DeMar DeRozan’s is -1.85. Harden might not be the best defender, but there is no doubt that he is a superstar, and you should look out for him and his Rockets in the playoffs.
Team of the Week:
Golden State Warriors- Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about how the Warriors aren’t necessarily better with Kevin Durant, and how they just don’t dominate like a championship team should (https://hoopnationreport.com/2017/01/11/the-struggles-of-the-golden-state-warriors/). But now, the Warriors are riding a 6 game winning streak, and have also won 9 out of 10 since their loss to Cleveland. Obviously, the highlight of the week for the Warriors was their drubbing of the Cavs, 126-91. This was a revenge game for them, and they came out and put on a show. The Cavs were never in the game, and they just could not guard all of Golden State’s options. If we see these two teams in the finals again, Golden State has the slight edge in my mind.