Tag Archives: James Harden

Triple Zeros – ‘What’s an Offseason?’

Triple Zeros

‘What’s an Offseason?’

This episode of Triple Zeros kicks off talking about the return of Zion Williamson to the New Orleans Pelicans this week. What is their outlook now? Then, which one is a contender and which one is a pretender between Kevin Durant‘s Brooklyn Nets or Joel Embiid‘s Philadelphia 76ers? Their lopsided head-to-head matchup certainly saw Kyrie Irving look like a better sidekick than James Harden. Former Sacramento Kings guard Jason Williams said Kobe Bryant arguably wasn’t in his top-five all-time Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA world celebrates Gregg Popovich after he passed Don Nelson for the most coaching wins in NBA history.

On the NFL side, the offseason doesn’t mean a time for rest. The Chicago Bears traded Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers. That could mean a big opportunity for third-year EDGE Trevis Gipson. Russell Wilson is now a member of the Denver Broncos after Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks agreed to deal him. But is it too late? Carson Wentz showed enough to convince the Washington Commanders to give up draft capital for his services. And, whatever Aaron Rodgers says, the opposite is probably true. Deshaun Watson could soon have a new address too after his criminal trial was dismissed. He still has to deal with civil litigation as well as the league’s investigation, though.

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Last Word on Pro Football

Pippen Ain’t Easy

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

Triple Zeros – That Wasn’t Very Convincing

Triple Zeros

That Wasn’t Very Convincing

This episode of Triple Zeros kicks off wondering just how much of the New York Knicks woes are on Tom Thibodeau and how culpable Julius Randle is after the latter blew up on Cam Johnson of the Phoenix Suns. The Philadelphia 76ers have won five straight and four in a row with James Harden in the lineup. What’s their ceiling ahead of the NBA Playoffs? The Ja MorantDerrick Rose comparisons are unfair to the Memphis Grizzlies superstar point guard. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers struggles were predictable, injuries and all.

On the NFL side, QB chatter once again rules the discussion with Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson – who the Washington Commanders attempted to trade for – all earning their fair share of the headlines. The New York Giants have made running back Saquon Barkley available while the New England Patriots are letting cornerback J.C. Jackson test free agency. Plus, new Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniels is either not sold on Tua Tagovailoa or in over his head and possibly both!

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Last Word on Pro Football

Pippen Ain’t Easy

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

Triple Zeros – ‘So Sorry, Patrick’

Triple Zeros #166

‘So Sorry, Patrick’

This episode of Triple Zeros kicks off with the NBA as the league returns from the All-Star break. Hear what Draymond Green had to say about Rudy Gobert and why he was right. But first, The Chicago Bulls have been even better than expected despite being banged up all season long. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks can’t overcome the inconsistent effort that has played a large part in their disappointing season to this point. James Harden made his debut alongside Joel Embiid in a Philadephia 76ers victory. Ben Simmons is not as close to returning as Kevin Durant is for the Brooklyn Nets but the even bigger story is that Kyrie Irving may soon be a full-time player. And what should we make of Zion Williamson‘s situation with the New Orleans Pelicans?

On the NFL side, Russell Wilson is the Kyler Murray of Aaron Rodgerses after his social media antics this week. It’s time for the Seattle Seahawks to move on even if it’s a year late. Matt Nagy (and Ryan Pace) landed a new job; his old one! He’ll be the senior assistant and quarterback’s coach for Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Brian Flores landed an assistant role in Pittsburgh and it might not be too far-fetched to believe that Deshaun Watson could join him. Teams are reportedly still lining up with trade offers even with his sexual assault cases still ongoing.

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Last Word on Pro Football

Pippen Ain’t Easy

Soaring Down South

Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter (@3ZerosPod, @JoshGBuck, @ClockerSports) and visit ClockerSport.com today!

NBA’s Bubble Bursting with Rash of Injuries to Superstars

The NBA’s decision to restart the 2019-20 season is coming back to haunt them as star players drop like flies with major injuries. Think back to last August when the talk of an NBA bubble was ruffling the feathers of some of the league’s biggest stars, including its biggest in LeBron James.

It was so much of an issue that players led by James and Kawhi Leonard nearly walked out, taking the hopes of a restart with them. We know that the bubble ultimately went smoothly, but that stance is back at the forefront.

NBA’s Quick Turnaround is Coming Back to Bite Them in Playoffs with Injuries to Stars

Bad News

Los Angeles Clippers superstar forward Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Reports are that it’s feared to be a torn ACL which would, obviously, knock him out of the postseason.

James took to social media to voice his displeasure retroactive to the quick turnaround after last season. In a four-part Twitter thread, the 17-time All-Star began by saying “They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen” before sending prayers to Leonard on his recovery.

He (Leonard) just the latest in a long line of big-name players to be sidelined due to injury this season. It’s a season, by the way, in which studies have shown a major increase in soft-tissue injuries.

ESPN broke the story and mentioned the impact was magnified amongst the game’s stars.

Throughout the season we lost superstars like James, James Harden, James’ teammate, Anthony Davis, and so many more. It stands to reason as they are on the floor and have the ball the most. We know that. And, to James’s point, they put the most stress on their body. This is where the sympathy for the players ends, though.

If You Only Knew

Not to pick on James, but he is the vocal face of the league and spoke on this in real-time. His entire thread is flawed. Remember this story about the Lakers and Clippers, led by James and Leonard, nearly walking out of a meeting in the bubble after voting to cancel the playoffs?

How, then, are we supposed to rally behind the players when they apparently felt one way about starting the 2020-21 season but acted in another?

No, this isn’t slinging blame on the players for trying to protect their income. Anyone who works would likely have made the same decision. However, that person would not then get to stand on the other side and point a finger if things didn’t work out.

Would this be the stance if the Lakers were still alive in the postseason? Maybe, but chances are you wouldn’t hear it voiced in this fashion.

Maybe the frustration of it all played a part in lashing out. But players legitimately almost kept the bubble from happening. Why then couldn’t they combine the forces of what is viewed as one of the stronger player unions in pro sports and hold off the start of the season? If they truly “know about the body and how it works all year round”, then why not present that information?

Injuries Making NBA, Star Players Feel Effects of Quick Turnaround

The answer put simply is they made a business decision. When weighing the risks of playing after such little time off versus those of missing out on salary. Again, it’s an understandable position to take for anyone, not just in regards to the NBA’s injuries.

Just don’t be surprised when the calls for sympathy or the “I told you so” attitude falls flat. You already knew what would happen!

With Friends Like James Harden, Who Needs Enemies?

Polarizing is a word that fittingly describes the kind of player James Harden is. Some view his style of play as innovative and unique; a skill set he has honed through practicing tough shots and understanding the rule book. Others would call it a detriment to the game. An abuse of poorly written and unevenly called rules. The amount of discussion coming from either side, though, shows just how high of a profile Harden has.

News broke on Wednesday that the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards had agreed to swap star point guards. Russell Westbrook to Washington and John Wall to Houston. It’s been reported that Harden and Wall have worked out and played in open runs together for some time now. The move has received all sorts of reactions, just like anything else Harden does.

Harden Running Out of Friends to Help Him

Okay, But Why?

Some say this is a move designed to keep Harden interested in staying in Houston. Recent attempts to get over the hump in the postseason have all fallen short. We can go back to the Dwight Howard experiment but let’s instead focus on Chris Paul’s time in H-Town. There was much consternation about how they would coexist being as ball-dominant as they are. They worked well enough for folks to hypothesize that if Paul doesn’t get hurt the Rockets might make some noise.

Well, Paul got shipped out after two seasons. One of which they lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games. Injuries had always been a part of Paul’s history so an injury possibly derailing a playoff run is plausible. When Harden told reporters after they got bounced in 2018 that he knew what had to be done, the writing was on the wall.

Houston shocked the world again. They made another trade for what most considered an unmovable contract when they swapped CP3 for Russell Westbrook. After failing to click with the Point God, Harden now had his childhood friend for a running-mate. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s style caused the Rockets to change up their roster. They went with a small-ball approach. The tallest person on the floor for them often standing no taller than 6-foot-7. That ended with a five-game series loss in the second round. Again to the eventual champion, this time in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, even with Daryl Morey no longer in the fold, the Rockets have swapped unmovable contracts. The move is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue the Rockets won. On top of keeping Harden happy, they get rid of Westbrook whose style isn’t conducive to winning. Others will argue the Wizards won because of the off-the-court issues Wall has had as well as the complicated relationship with (and reaction to the team building around) Bradley Beal. Oh, and Wall, who hasn’t played since the 2018-19 season, is returning from serious injuries including a torn Achilles.

Same Difference

The tale of the tape is quite interesting. Wall is the bigger of the two and has the higher assist average. This is more than a little surprising given Westbrook’s three-year run of averaging a triple-double. But Wall had a three-year stretch where he averaged better than 10 dimes per game. The difference is Wall has never been the kind of shot-seeking scorer that Westbrook is.

Brodie has eight seasons (out of 12) averaging greater than 18 shots per contest. Wall, aptly nicknamed ‘Optimus Dime’, has but one. Westbrook is the more voluminous scorer too, but Wall takes the efficiency advantage everywhere but at the free throw line.

Perhaps ideally, in the mind of Harden and Rockets brass, is that Wall can be a happy medium between Westbrook’s explosiveness (a nice compliment to Harden’s lull-you-to-sleep style) and Paul’s pass-first mentality. That is if he is happy and focused. Going to a competitive situation in Houston after being in the tumultuous one in Washington will help. As will the singing of Demarcus Cousins; a friend of Wall’s going back to their day at the University of Kentucky.

We’re all missing the forest for the trees, though. It doesn’t matter if this will work for the Rockets (it won’t). Nor does it matter who won the trade (the blogosphere). No, what matters here is that Harden has cycled through a fair amount of friends for teammates and hasn’t figured out the right fit yet. At some point the question needs to be asked if building around him is worth it.

The Real Culprit

This isn’t an attack on his playing style, either, outside of his willingness to be complimentary. There aren’t many, if any, situations where Harden would be a second option but he could still benefit from being a better compliment on the floor to his team. Instead of standing in the corner watching the action when off the ball, become a better, more active cutter. Instead of dribbling out the shot clock on every possession, allow yourself to be more of a part of a system that get more guys involved.

Yes, star players are supposed to touch and shoot the ball more. Harden’s 36.3 usage rate in 2019-20 is second only to Michael Jordan’s ‘86-’87 season (38.3) in NBA history. With nowhere close to the hardware as ‘His Airness’, and a history of fading in the postseason, that number could stand to drop even if only a little bit. The last player to win a championship with a usage rate in the 30s was LeBron James in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, haven’t even done it.

It’s a big deal that the Rockets and Wizards pulled this trade off. We just need to recognize what the real story is here: Harden is the problem, not his teammates. At some point, it is no longer everybody else, it’s you. We are seeing this response to Paul George who is implicated in reports of dysfunction in the Los Angeles Clippers organization and now taking thinly-veiled shots at former coach Doc Rivers.

Harden’s passing of the buck isn’t as blatant as George’s was. But, even with the statements before the CP3 trade, the constant cycling of supporting cast speaks volumes. Talking heads have just overlooked it because the Rockets keep putting together intriguing groups. This time though, with a move that might be best described as lateral, we might be reaching the end of this case study. It’s been theorized that the Wall and Cousins moves are independent of a decision to move Harden, though that seems unlikely.

Rough Being Friends with James Harden

We saw Harden slapping Paul’s hand away on the sidelines and read the reports that Harden and Westbrook had bumped heads on occasion. These incidents get viewed through the lens of isolated incidents or as the fault of the other guy. Maybe rightfully so, none of the aforementioned teammates were choirboys. But the common denominator, and dominator of the situation, is James Harden. As a player who has been vocal about his scoring accolades, he needs to be a leader and own up to and adjust his ways.

Unless, of course, he truly doesn’t care about winning

Triple Zeros: An A-Blazing Offseason

Triple Zeros

An A-Blazing Offseason

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about the Bengals desperate need to get more blocking for Joe Burrow, if there is a “blueprint” for beating the Chiefs, who in the NFL can pull it off? Things switch over to the NBA and how DeMarcus Cousins and James Harden are an intriguing duo. Plus, Michael Jordan is still overpaying for mediocre talent. All that and so much more!
 

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Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

Triple Zeros: City of the Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

Triple Zeros Ep. 💯!!

City of Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

 
🏈Steelers Imperfectly Perfect
🏈Nuk the Jumpman
🏀On the Move
🏀It’s #NBADraft-mas Eve
+More!
 

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Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros

Chris Paul Changed His Narrative Without Winning a Ring

Just a few short years ago Chris Paul, one of the greatest point guards of his generation, if not in the history of the NBA, had a decaying reputation.

Paul Changed Narrative Without Championship

Everyone acknowledged his talent. He has a supreme basketball IQ, can score on anyone in any number of ways, and was an absolute floor general always in command of the situation at hand.

Some of those things, however, began to work against him in recent years. So much so that there was actually a debate on whether he or Rajon Rondo was the worse teammate. Rondo said it’s Paul, for what it’s worth.

Now, Paul isn’t exactly innocent of all the charges brought against him in the court of public opinion. He has had moments where his passion has gotten the best of him. Videos like the one below do him no favors.

No one likes to lose, but that is a reaction one wouldn’t even expect to see at a bitty ball game, let alone from a veteran NBA player. Sorry, not just a veteran. A ten-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selection, six-time steals leader, .four-time assists leader Oh, he was also Rookie of the Year and, obviously, First Team All-Rookie selection.

That’s a helluva resume for someone who does what we see in that video. It wasn’t an isolated thing either. We all remember the story of Paul trying to storm the Los Angeles Clippers locker room with his Rockets teammates.

Or the image of his former teammate on the Rockets James Harden swatting his hand away during a timeout.

It hasn’t just been attitude questions surrounding Paul. There have also been charges of choking and being injury prone. The latter has more credibility but neither is really on target. Interestingly enough, all of the things held against him have always been present in his NBA career.

But he got the benefit of the doubt in New Orleans, be it due to youth, the small market, or the general belief that he didn’t have enough around him to compete.

That changed when he arrived in L.A., but no the before he got one more image booster from the NBA. At the time, the league controlled his team, the Hornets, and David Stern made the infamous decision to nix a deal that would have had Paul joining the Lakers and teaming with Kobe Bryant.

Instead, CP3 wound up with the Clippers and began the era known as Lob City, a high-flying circus of a group that included Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Doc Rivers was the last remaining piece from that era

Unfortunately, injuries continued to be an issue not just for Paul but also for Griffin. The group fell short of expectations, much in the same ways Paul’s Hornets did. This time, though, the spotlight was much brighter.

People began to focus on his injury history. His past playoff performances began to be scrutinized with his statistical output being undercut by those clutch moments where he came up short.

We even reached a point where his style of basketball was being questioned as conducive to winning. Pundits once lauded his ability to control the game and now they condemned him for dribbling the air out of the basketball.

Six seasons in L.A. Six straight playoff appearances. Zero Conference Finals berths.

This was after three trips to the playoffs in New Orleans with similar results. Again though, that spotlight was so much brighter in La La Land. He was a veteran and nine-time All-Star. At some point, explanations become excuses no matter how legitimate they may be.

That’s how significant the trade to Houston was. It not only showed that Paul was still a desired commodity (something that had been publicly in question), it allowed him to show his game was malleable. If he could play with Harden, who has a “ball hog” rep of his own, then surely the talking heads were wrong about Paul.

But his Houston tenure went just like his previous two stops. Plagued by injuries and disappointment.

Though he did exorcise his demon of not reaching the Conference Finals. When Harden said he knew what had to be done following the Rockets elimination in 2019, many of us knew what was coming. We saw him slap Paul’s hand.

Houston traded CP3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. It was a deal that no one would have predicted months earlier but was made necessary following the surprise request and subsequent trade of Paul George. It was actually an idea bandied about back in 2011 when Paul was still with the Hornets. Of course, the circumstances were different this time around with both players looking to rehab their images.

The talk was OKC was just a pit stop, a temporary situation until he inevitably got dealt to a contender; namely the Miami Heat. The Thunder had gutted their team moving Westbrook and George, the latter of which bought a bevy of draft picks, young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari back in return. This was clearly an organization transitioning to rebuilding mode.

Until they weren’t.

ESPN gave the Thunder a .2 percent chance of making the postseason. Not only did they make it, but they were also the fifth seed and took the Rockets seven games. It was yet another first-round exit but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would attack Paul, who had 19/11/12 in the deciding Game 7.

On the contrary, Paul earned recognition for bringing together the ragtag bunch. He was, at least partially, credited with the development of Gilgeous-Alexander and making the trio of he, SGA, and Dennis Schroder work.

We know about Paul’s mentorship of young players off the court and all he does in the community but this was the first time in a long time that he was in that role and he seemingly crushed it. So much so that there has been talk that new Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan owes the fact that he got another job so quickly to Paul and what the Thunder did on the floor.

Talks now, while the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat battled to and in the NBA Finals, is rife with players requesting their teams trade for Paul and positive speculation of reunions with former coaches.

In stark contrast to just two years ago when the book on his legacy was thought to have already been written. A player so many thought was selfish and played a losing brand of ball is suddenly a sought-after piece for a contender and mentor for teams like the Bulls, who have young point guard (and Paul mentee) Coby White.

Chris Paul legitimately changed the entire narrative around him without winning a ring.

Don’t think that’s been given up on though.