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Can DeMar surpass Harden?

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  • ezz_bee
    replied
    Not to take a ridiculously convoluted argument and make it more convoluted, but heck, let's do it!!! One thing we haven't addressed is how basketball IQ factors into how we think about talent & leadership.

    Bill Russel has tons of stories about how he would manipulate Chamberlain when they played against each other, including let him score A LOT in the first half. He claims that he had the ability to goad him into being selfish/making bad plays. How much is Chamberlain's lack of comparable success was selfishness, or just lower b-ball IQ?

    The point I'm making, is that if I'm choosing teammates, I usually prefer taking bball IQ over talent. In terms of Basket-ball IQ, I wouldn't say that either harder or demar has a particular advantage over the other. In a vacuum I'd take Harden over Demar. Although, there is no hypothetically vacuum, and what you'd do in the vacuum has little baring how a TEAM wins games.

    Some other random points:

    Talent/productivity/winning is not a zero sum game (especially with two teams in different conferences). The relative success of Harden or Demar has zero affect on the other players talent, and only a minuscule effect on relative the relative talent of the other player (because it is also relative to all the other players). Player rankings of positions are not a great way to measure or predict the success of your team. I don't really care if Demar is the best SG in the league. I care that we get to the Eastern Conference Finals and that is more a function of team than individuals.

    Question? How much is Demar's new-found leadership a function of maturity, and how much of it is a result of playing with Kyle Lowry? Although Demar was called upon by the franchise to be a leader, he really didn't seem to manifest much leadership before Lowry's arrival. In my opinion I do not think it's possible to extrapolate Demar's "leadership" isolated from Lowry's influence (but maybe I'm selling him short). If you swapped Demar with Harden straight up, how much impact would Lowry/Toronto's team culture have on Harden, how much would Demar's leadership impact Howard and the Rockets? I would argue that the Raps already have enough established hard working players (JV/Amir/Lowry), that IF we traded Demar for Harden (not actually advocating that, just a hypothetical) I think we would see more of a defense focused Harden a la OKC. Again, this is a player who used to be pretty good at defense. And it is more a function of saving energy for offense (aka being lazy) and mental lapses (ball-watching/being lazy) that results in his non-existent defense. But in this case you are trying to parse an individual's leadership abilities from team culture, which is very tricky and also subjective. Even looking Lowry, how much of it is him maturing vs. being influence by Masai? Would we even see Lowry and Derozan as leaders if we didn't trade Gay in December, and the Raps went on to miss the playoffs? (If Coangelo would have stayed on as GM I think we can all agree that the Gay trade doesn't happen, AND maybe even the Bargs trade...).

    We over-value "success/winning/championships" as a measure of a player's talent/ability. I am a HUGE Lowry homer, but I do think that with a different coach/GM/other teammates, it's entirely possible that the narrative that used to surround him (difficult teammate, hard to coach) would still be hanging over his head. If you never win, then you were always a bad leader, until you win, then you were always a good leader.

    How many finals/WCFs appearances would T-Mac have had with a healthy Yao Ming? If T-Mac was on a team with Ben Wallace (Rodman comparison) and prime Andre Igoudala (Scottie Pippen equivalent?) with decent to above average role players, would that team have gotten to a conference finals or finals? How would that have affected our perception of T-Mac as a "winner". It's entirely possible that there is an alternative universe where Micheal Jordan never had decent teammates and never got the finals or won a championship. How much would his "leadership" be questioned in that alternative universe? Wouldn't the narrative be that he was too demanding of his teammates? That he wasn't able to elevate their games? And that's why he never won a championship?

    Anyway, in terms of intangibles I always value "b-ball IQ" ahead of leadership. Although an individuals "leadership" is certainly important, it happens within the context of the organisation, which includes the coach and GM. Again, how do we
    allocate the credit of leadership to Jordan vs. Jackson or Kobe vs. Jackson. Can we really separate these things out? I don't think so. That's why I favour looking at B-ball IQ. Does the player make good decisions or bad decisions? Bad decisions can be exploited in the playoffs by opponents.

    Anyway, to answer the question of the OP, can Demar surpass Harden? Don't care, bring home the hardware.

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  • Pong
    replied
    white men can't jump wrote: View Post
    And I myself said Lowry is the primary leader, but DeMar's impact is quieter. And you can tell when they interview guys like Jonas and Ross, and they talk about DeMar's hard work, how it lead to an all-star selection and he keeps getting better, so they want to follow that example. That is one side of being a leader on a team, and one where DeMar excels. That is an area where typical "assholes" like Jordan and Kobe also excelled, where their drive inspired teammates to try and be their best, which is one way to elevate your teammates.
    Yes, but does that really manifest itself onto the court performances of his team mates? Just because you're a hard worker it doesn't exactly make your teammates better when you're in game. And if you're talking about out of court, you can't say that Demar's 'leadership' is what's causing improvements in Jonas and Ross' game. They have their own motivation to become better players. It definitely helps to have someone set an example for hard work, but you can get that type of motivation from any veteran leader in your team.

    Bottom line is it's already established that Harden is better than DD talent wise. Now we're left discussing the intangibles in what they bring which is extremely subjective. He has definitely come a long way and has improved his game year after year. But he's been a raptor for a long time, and aside from last year, I haven't exactly seen how he has made his team mates better. And last year's successes had much to do with Lowry and the Kings' squad. Remember those 'behind the doors' player meetings we had over the years when there were locker room issues?

    Harden has only really had his 'leadership' role for 2 years as a rockets player. Whereas DD has been here years. And as someone has mentioned, in those 2 years harden was able to contribute to the team's win total.

    And if we're simply talking about on court performance and overall team success, put harden in derozan's role on this team, and we'd win even more games than we have now.

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  • white men can't jump
    replied
    Pong wrote: View Post
    True. But the talent is already there. Now he just needs to learn and become a better leader. Whether that's doable for harden is another topic of discussion. Whereas you can have all the great leadership qualities but lack the talent to really become something special.

    And again, has DD really shown us he can make his teammates better? If that's the case, bargs and rudy gay would still be here. Okay, I admit that's a bit extreme, but what I mean is if we're talking about leadership and making people better on the raptors, I'd give that to Lowry.
    And I myself said Lowry is the primary leader, but DeMar's impact is quieter. And you can tell when they interview guys like Jonas and Ross, and they talk about DeMar's hard work, how it lead to an all-star selection and he keeps getting better, so they want to follow that example. That is one side of being a leader on a team, and one where DeMar excels. That is an area where typical "assholes" like Jordan and Kobe also excelled, where their drive inspired teammates to try and be their best, which is one way to elevate your teammates.

    DeMar has a lot more learning to do in terms of being vocal on the court. But even off the court, you can see from interviews and behind-the-scenes things like "Open gym" that he is growing there, including as a locker room leader. He did seem like the 2nd voice after Lowry. And again, though Lowry is the main leader, DeMar takes his share of responsibility, and perhaps more importantly, they follow each other's example, which goes back to it being hard to be a good leader if your teammates see that you don't follow the right example. Why would they feel inclined to if the best player(s) on the team don't?

    *Just to add to this, it's also hard to gauge the impact DeMar has had on Lowry. While Masai and Casey have clearly helped Lowry mature, has DeMar's presence as a friend/brother type as well as high-quality player who'll fight with him on the court been a big factor in helping to smooth Lowry's rough edges? It may be.

    But yeah, he can stand to improve in some intangibles on the court, as well as tangibles to help directly elevate his team/teammates. No one's saying that DeMar is a complete leader, but his progress in that area has felt steadily positive, while Harden's progression has been much less encouraging, at least to me, since he left OKC.

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  • Pong
    replied
    white men can't jump wrote: View Post
    This is simply a very large assumption with no basis in fact. There is no relationship between talent and leadership ability. In fact, it probably more often coincides with a lack of leadership ability in the NBA (again though it's not a relationship, just coincidence).
    True. But the talent is already there. Now he just needs to learn and become a better leader. Whether that's doable for harden is another topic of discussion. Whereas you can have all the great leadership qualities but lack the talent to really become something special.

    And again, has DD really shown us he can make his teammates better? If that's the case, bargs and rudy gay would still be here. Okay, I admit that's a bit extreme, but what I mean is if we're talking about leadership and making people better on the raptors, I'd give that to Lowry.

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  • iblastoff
    replied
    on the flipside, demar has always been a hard worker/gym rat/etc etc. has that really translated to making the team 'better' in the many years hes been in toronto? in reality, his own personal stats have gotten small bumps every year but other than that?

    lowry playing out of this world and new players from sacramento instantly clicking on chemistry was how we got last years performance. vasquez basically credits his performance directly with being lowrys backup.

    i'm sure derozans leadership/whatever people are calling it has had some positive influence on the team, but i have no idea what that translates to on the actual court.

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  • white men can't jump
    replied
    Pong wrote: View Post
    No i get your argument. What I said is that Harden has more talent than DD and hence he has much more of a chance to help the team win or make team mates better. Harden may be a more selfish player but he is a much better playmaker/passer and he also has the assist totals to show for it. And because of his talent, even though if he's not there yet, he has much more of a chance to become a good leader.

    And if we're on the topic of 'making team mates better', how much impact does DD have on his team mates? We've talked enough about Harden and what he does, but waht about DD? It's not like he's ahead of Harden in that area either...
    This is simply a very large assumption with no basis in fact. There is no relationship between talent and leadership ability. In fact, it probably more often coincides with a lack of leadership ability in the NBA (again though it's not a relationship, just coincidence).

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  • Pong
    replied
    S.R. wrote: View Post
    We're confusing being likeable with making your teammates better. Not the same thing at all.
    No i get your argument. What I said is that Harden has more talent than DD and hence he has much more of a chance to help the team win or make team mates better. Harden may be a more selfish player but he is a much better playmaker/passer and he also has the assist totals to show for it. And because of his talent, even though if he's not there yet, he has much more of a chance to become a good leader.

    And if we're on the topic of 'making team mates better', how much impact does DD have on his team mates? We've talked enough about Harden and what he does, but waht about DD? It's not like he's ahead of Harden in that area either... Think about it, we've had DD for years. Our team was mediocre. Last year's successes had much more to do with Lowry than DD.
    Last edited by Pong; Tue Oct 14, 2014, 03:45 PM.

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  • white men can't jump
    replied
    planetmars wrote: View Post
    Adding my two cents to this discussion.. but Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were all a$$holes.. and all three were former MVP's and have won championships.. this league is all about talent. If you are good you can win despite how bad of a teammate you are.

    Harden was still able to average more than 6 assists per game last season despite being such a bad teammate.

    DeMar is going to be an ironman in this league though.. so there will be a time when DeMar is better than Harden but it will be when they are both old vets.. and by then it doesn't really matter if DeMar surpasses him.
    I don't really agree with this at all...again, it's not about being a "nice guy". That's not what makes every leader. You can be an asshole as long as you buy into the team game. You can put up big numbers, including assists, and still play "the wrong way", which is the kind of stuff Jordan was doing early in his career. The change came when he realized, with Jackson's help/guidance, that he had to sacrifice. That he had to set an example his teammates would follow on the court, even if he was still an asshole off the court.

    Harden's not there yet. And I definitely think if he needs a kick in the butt from a coach/teammate to get there, McHale and Howard are not the right guys.

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  • S.R.
    replied
    Pong wrote: View Post
    Let's take a step back a bit here. At the core of my argument is that if we're to pick a guy with talent but is an asshole vs a guy who far an away from that but is a good team mate, i'd take talent any day. If we're to talk about a guy's impact on the overall success of a team, talent is a major contributor of that. Harden may not have proved this yet, but he has much more of a chance to do so than say Derozan if he was on that team. And if Harden was on the Raptors instead of derozan, I'll bet you this team would be even better than they are now (don't want to knock DD but that's reality).
    We're confusing being likeable with making your teammates better. Not the same thing at all.

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  • Pong
    replied
    S.R. wrote: View Post
    Reducing the chemistry/leadership issue to being "chummy" or a good locker room buddy is a gross misrepresentation about what was said. The argument against a guy like Harden, whether or not it's valid, is that despite immense personal basketball talent, his impact on the overall success of the team is not that great. Basically it's a version of the Ewing theory.

    If you're looking for a list of selfish basketball players who don't play a lick of defense and who were the #1 guy on championship teams in the NBA, your list will be very, very short. In spite of immensely different personalities and leadership styles, regardless of whether or not they were well liked by their teammates, it's pretty well recognized that guys like Duncan, Lebron, Kobe, MJ, Isaiah, Bird, Magic, etc. etc. made their teams much, much better simply by being on them. It's a totally valid argument that some guys fill the stat sheet with personal skills that don't seem to translate to proportionately heightened team success.

    I'm with willamlou in that I don't think we have enough of a track record/info with Harden to be able to say this definitively about him. His first year in Houston he helped bring their win total up by 11 (from 34 to 45) and his second year he and Dwight helped bump them up another 9 (45 to 54). That's a win total jump of 20 in 2 seasons with him as the #1 guy. That's pretty damn good.

    His attitude is a bit off imho but these are his first 2 years as a team leader. He may figure some of this stuff out.
    Let's take a step back a bit here. At the core of my argument is that if we're to pick a guy with talent but is an asshole vs a guy who far an away from that but is a good team mate, i'd take talent any day. If we're to talk about a guy's impact on the overall success of a team, talent is a major contributor of that. Harden may not have proved this yet, but he has much more of a chance to do so than say Derozan if he was on that team. And if Harden was on the Raptors instead of derozan, I'll bet you this team would be even better than they are now (don't want to knock DD but that's reality).

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  • S.R.
    replied
    planetmars wrote: View Post
    Adding my two cents to this discussion.. but Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were all a$$holes.. and all three were former MVP's and have won championships.. this league is all about talent. If you are good you can win despite how bad of a teammate you are.

    Harden was still able to average more than 6 assists per game last season despite being such a bad teammate.

    DeMar is going to be an ironman in this league though.. so there will be a time when DeMar is better than Harden but it will be when they are both old vets.. and by then it doesn't really matter if DeMar surpasses him.
    Again though, it's not about likability - at all. It's about whether or not your presence elevates the play of your teammates.

    MJ clearly pushed his teammates; it didn't mater if anybody liked him or not. And this discussion is one of the basic knocks on Wilt - in spite of immense personal talent, he didn't win nearly as much as guys like Kareem or Russel. A lot of people will argue one of the reasons for that was Wilt's selfishness/mentality.

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  • planetmars
    replied
    Adding my two cents to this discussion.. but Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were all a$$holes.. and all three were former MVP's and have won championships.. this league is all about talent. If you are good you can win despite how bad of a teammate you are.

    Harden was still able to average more than 6 assists per game last season despite being such a bad teammate.

    DeMar is going to be an ironman in this league though.. so there will be a time when DeMar is better than Harden but it will be when they are both old vets.. and by then it doesn't really matter if DeMar surpasses him.

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  • Pong
    replied
    rightsideup wrote: View Post
    shaq
    Firstly, I should probably elaborate that I meant it from a GM perspective. If I was asked to choose between 2 players, a guy who is flat out better but is a douche and a guy who's a good locker room guy but significantly less talented, I'd take the guy with talent.

    Second, Shaq can complain all he wants but they won rings together already so who really cares lol.
    Last edited by Pong; Tue Oct 14, 2014, 03:20 PM.

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  • ddaylewis
    replied
    e_wheazhy_ wrote: View Post
    I remember not too long ago someone posted a link to a Lithuanian article interviewing motiejunas. He was talking about the rockets and how they weren't a true team, where Howard and Harden would eat meals at a different table than everyone else, wouldn't say hi to anyone when they showed up for practice or games, in general just wouldn't do decent human being/teammate things.

    I think it's safe to say his teammates don't like him.

    All that efficient scoring aside, the fact that he is such a douche is the reason some (maybe even most) Toronto sports fans would rather have Demar. He's a "Toronto" guy.

    It becomes even more amplified when you compare the recent "success" of the rockets to some other teams who are known to play for each other (blazers, spurs come to mind).
    That entire story was a product of shoddy translating from a radio interview.

    http://www.thescore.com/nba/news/551419

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  • white men can't jump
    replied
    S.R. wrote: View Post
    Reducing the chemistry/leadership issue to being "chummy" or a good locker room buddy is a gross misrepresentation about what was said. The argument against a guy like Harden, whether or not it's valid, is that despite immense personal basketball talent, his impact on the overall success of the team is not that great. Basically it's a version of the Ewing theory.

    If you're looking for a list of selfish basketball players who don't play a lick of defense and who were the #1 guy on championship teams in the NBA, your list will be very, very short. In spite of immensely different personalities and leadership styles, regardless of whether or not they were well liked by their teammates, it's pretty well recognized that guys like Duncan, Lebron, Kobe, MJ, Isaiah, Bird, Magic, etc. etc. made their teams much, much better simply by being on them. It's a totally valid argument that some guys fill the stat sheet with personal skills that don't seem to translate to proportionately heightened team success.

    I'm with willamlou in that I don't think we have enough of a track record/info with Harden to be able to say this definitively about him. His first year in Houston he helped bring their win total up by 11 (from 34 to 45) and his second year he and Dwight helped bump them up another 9 (45 to 54). That's a win total jump of 20 in 2 seasons with him as the #1 guy. That's pretty damn good.

    His attitude is a bit off imho but these are his first 2 years as a team leader. He may figure some of this stuff out.
    I agree with this. I was just focusing on the issue to point out that it's an area where DeMar makes up some of the gap between Harden and himself, and to show that it can be part of a valid argument as to why someone may prefer DeMar to Harden.

    However it is definitely not something where I just write Harden off. Again though, I feel like he did better in the "follower" role in OKC, and thought that would translate into strong leadership when thrust into the franchise player role. To me it's felt like he's trending in a more negative direction since going to Houston...but he can definitely still turn it around.

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