Is Stopping James Harden An Impossible Conquest?


Feb 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward

Al-Farouq Aminu

(7) reacts after scoring during the first half against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s an idea. It’s tempting to declare James Harden a high volume and efficient scorer that can’t be slowed down. He pretty much is. The league should thank Russell Westbrook for not being a human this year and refusing to give Harden the scoring champion’s crown. An MVP-worthy campaign scares fans into hoping their team doesn’t meet him in the opening round. Well, this ‘Fear the Beard’ notion might be real after all.

The Mavs are (un)lucky to meet this fellow Lone Star State team. And the question remains: Who can stop the beard? From sixth man to lethal heavyweight MVP contender with compelling skills that make him extremely dangerous. His ability to draw tons of fouls might be annoying for some, but the skill contributed 32.3% of his 27 points per game. Talk about degrees of competence.

As for the Mavs, preventing Harden to score a bevy of points seems not just an abortive attempt but also bound to be a failed quest.

Is it true? If it is wrong, who in the Mavs’ roster could be given such task to defend him?

Al-Farouq Aminu.

The list of scary on-ball defenders in this league grows more and more each year. But few are notably known to carve your heart out. Kidding. They want the ball you’ve got.

Tony Allen, Patrick Beverley (out injured, relieved Mavs fans), Andre Iguodala to Matt Barnes are names that you wouldn’t want on your best perimeter player. But stepping outside of world’s clichés and into the analytic measures, names above just don’t make it this year.

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With at least 1.300 minutes played and less than 102.0 defensive rating, Aminu joins only two players and guess who, the illegal hands Kawhi Leonard and the Defensive Player of the Year nominee Draymond Green. Warn you, these two names are terrifying defenders known throughout the league.

Basically saying based on the records between Harden and the latter two in eight games of regular season, separating four games each against San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, respectively. A simple mathematical tells me in four of those games combined, he only managed to shoot 31.75% off the floor, going 23-73 in those spans which resulted to four losses.

The facts that show James Harden is still a human even though in some moments he could transform himself to inhuman basketball player. Some moments when he’s not stipulated by a gigantic perimeter defender like Leonard and Green though.

So is the conquest to stop Harden as simple as throwing Aminu on him? Yes, it is. Through 74 games this season with the Dallas Mavericks, Aminu doesn’t strike NBA fans as an incapable ball defender. Especially after this nice block on Harden in a winning effort at April 2.

A couple of tips to Rick Carlisle and Aminu. First, do not hesitate to give Aminu big minutes in this series. Second, grab his beard, Farouq. It might help to stop him.

Next: Power Ranking the Mavericks Roster Heading Into the Playoffs

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