3. There is a little bit of proud parent syndrome going on. As a result of Simmons' and others over-evaluation of Harden so far this year, his supporters have naturally pushed back. If you have read Darnell Mayberry at the Oklahoman for any amount of time, you will know that, apart from the natural priority he has given toward Durant and Westbrook, he will most frequently address Harden's game. Mayberry has been looking closely for a sign, any sign, that Harden is figuring it out. I think it is in part good reporting, but also in part because of the negative press that Harden has gotten as he struggled through the first quarter of the season. Now that Harden has seemed to turn the corner (Iconic dunks can do that for a man), the fullness of his game is coming to light. The phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none," comes to mind. It is often seen as a slight, because Harden doesn't do any one thing (at least for now) at an elite level. He does, however, do a lot of little things really well. If you need some points, he can get you 18-20. If you need some better passing, he'll get you 4-5 assists. Rebounding? No problem. Key defensive stops? He's getting that done as well, as the article at top proposes. He consistently makes an impact when the starting five have struggled. As his game has strengthened, it has given everybody from the pro writers down the opportunity to say, "Check out MY man, James. He looks as cool as Superfly and now his game is matching it as well."
You know what happens when teams on the verge miss big picks? They fall apart. The most recent glaring example is how Detroit, still high as a kite after vanquishing the first Laker dynasty of the 2000's, drafted Darko Milicic over Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. In a few short years they went from the team that ended the ShaKobe dynasty to just another 45 win club (on a good year), their prospects of successful longevity over before it really began. Simmons' real team, the Boston Celtics, missed too. Not quite in the same way, no. But they missed, and Simmons is still and forever will be scarred by it. The Celtics missed when they, also fresh on the heels of a 1986 championship, drafted Lenny Bias. Bias was supposed to be the continuation of the Larry Bird era. If you're old enough, you know the story. If you're not, reflect on it with what I consider one of the best things Simmons has ever written. I'm sure it is still raw for Bill, almost 25 years after the fact. I'm no psychologist, but I'd be willing to bet that when Simmons thinks about teams that miss, he thinks about how his team missed, and the ripple effect it can have on all the good things we think of when we think of the NBA.