It’s possible we always had such a strong recency bias, but it sure feels like recency bias is at its apogee. It’s also possible that recency bias just makes it seem as though Twitter is the ultimate warden to our collective prisoner of the moment. The commentary on athletes certainly smacks of an especially jerky knee jerking.
And damned if this James Harden mockery isn’t a bit silly. Five games ago, he was an obvious max contract for some lucky team out there. Now, cash is supposedly flying out of his pockets, like a bank in a tornado.
The max contract is and should be closer to the truth. Harden had a bad Finals, but let’s look at the bigger picture. James is 22 years old, and posted an equivalent win share mark to Kevin Durant in his most recent season. He was fourth in the league in true shooting percentage, and he shot more often than the three players ahead of him. He maintains such efficiency with a deadly outside shot, perceptive court vision, and a propensity for drawing fouls. Harden also has much room for improvement, as he can barely hold a coffee cup with his right hand.
What about the playoffs? Well, despite his much maligned Finals performance (and yes, it was mediocre), Harden was first among all two-guards in win share average this postseason. He was third among all guards in this stat, mostly because Ty Lawson and Darren Collison posted fine marks in very few minutes. The bearded one was also third in PER behind such schlimazels as Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Obviously, James Harden stinks.
But it’s just so fun to mock a man for losing money on the big stage, I suppose. While I hate to rain on such a good-natured activity, it should be noted that Harden has a whole year to prove that he isn’t what you saw in the NBA Finals. Between now and then you’ll likely fluctuate on how good you think James Harden is and what kind of contract he should command. My guess: Harden will look a lot better when not forced to guard a certain oft-doubted, oft-maligned superstar. We may be prisoners of the moment, but James Harden isn’t.