Harden Disappoints (Again) as Syracuse's Zone Drives Arizona State Mad

↵If that was your first opportunity to watch James Harden ... well, I feel as if I owe you an apology. Harden decided to wait until March to have his three worst games of the season (the Pac-10 championship and Arizona State's two tourney games). Syracuse took advantage, Eric Devendorf hits five threes and the Orange knocked out the Sun Devils 78-67.
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↵For most of the game, ASU looked like it had never seen a zone defense. Down 4-5 possessions in the final 10 minutes of the game, the Devils took 20 seconds lazily passing the ball around the perimeter every time down. It'd always end in Harden (easily) driving to the rim and missing a gimme, or one of his teammates taking an errant three.
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↵Harden's draft stock will likely plummet under the weight of failed expectations (just as tournament stars -- like Jonny Flynn -- climb the ladder). He can, and probably will, make up ground in work-outs. But there are a few matters working against him. His body won't impress many -- he's a stocky, short wing who can't leap over chasms or win a 100-yard dash. His greatest attributes beyond his phenomenal scoring ability are his so-called baskeball IQ and Brandon Roy-like pace control -- you can't exactly replicate those in an empty gym.
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↵Further, half the league (including most of the lottery) is reportedly hemorrhaging cash, and the whirlwind travel schedules for college scouts of yesteryear have likely shrunk. How many times has your given NBA GM seen Harden in person? If only once or twice, these three high-profile suckfests can't be good for the overall outlook. And once someone suffers in the conventional wisdom (which is where Harden is now), it'll take a paradigm-shifting occurrence to reverse course.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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