Rockets’ James Harden reveals when and why he started working on his floater
Houston Rockets superstar James Harden says he started working on his floater after they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
During that series, the Spurs were using a defensive scheme against Harden he wasn’t familiar with.
San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich was having his big guys stay near the rim on pick-and-roll plays so that Harden couldn’t get to the rim or throw alley-oops to Rockets center Clint Capela.
Harden struggled mightily in the Game 6 loss at home, finishing with just 10 points while shooting 2-of-11 from the field. The Beard and his trainer, Irv Roland, got to work that summer and started to implement the floater game in Harden’s arsenal.
The Spurs series brought something Harden had never seen before. What the Spurs did was unique. Making Harden overthink things, or putting him in confusing situations over time, ultimately led to San Antonio winning the series. Even at times when Harden wouldn’t call for a screen in the half court, and try to exploit mismatches, Gasol would hang back — almost daring him to take the open floater. As long as the shooters were accounted for, the Spurs would live with the results.
“For sure,” Harden said of the Spurs’ unique approach. “That’s one of the reasons why I started working on it (the floater).”
“That series was the one that made us realize it was a focal point,” Roland said. “When you play a six- or seven-game series, teams are going to switch up coverages. Most people know that we don’t like to shoot midrange shots. We like to shoot threes, layups and free throws. But the thing is most people, pick-and-roll wise, want to drop their big back to the rim and force us to take those weird in-between shots.”
The hard work James Harden put in that summer has paid off in a big way. The Rockets’ star guard has developed one of the most lethal floaters in the NBA, making it impossible to guard him now.
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