Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden is on pace to become just the 11th player in NBA history to sink more than 700 free-throws in a single season, but contrary to what his critics (and some opponents) allege, The Beard argues that he doesn’t fish for trips to the charity stripe.
Harden, the L’s second-leading scorer and a candidate for the MVP award, says he’s just being “crafty” when he tantalizingly shows the rock to over-eager defenders to swipe at (he refers to the move as the “cookie jar.”)
The 25-year old superstar has led the Rockets—the fourth worst free-throw shooting team in the L—to 54 wins so far.
Per the NY Times:
“You know what? I don’t look to get fouled, as people might think I do,” Harden said, darting his eyes left and right to caricature the notion. “I’m not like: ‘Where’s the foul? Where’s the foul?’ as I’m driving.” […] His only aim is to score the basket, Harden said, and if any defenders want to swipe at the ball to stop him, they can. But, he added, when he makes a move to the basket, he drives hard, and fouls are sometimes a byproduct.
Still, he was asked, what about the way he flattens out his arms to make them susceptible to being smacked, or how he changes pace on his dribble at counterintuitive times to create collisions, or his tendency to cling to defenders’ bodies even when freer paths to the rim seem to exist? […] Harden smiled. “That’s just being crafty,” he said.
“Getting fouled is definitely an art, and he’s very good at it,” Rockets Coach Kevin McHale said, adding that Harden’s body awareness allowed him to initiate contact that works in his favor. […] “You either know how to draw fouls or don’t, and I’m not sure you can teach it,” McHale added. “It may be innate.”