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Naidu: Fear the beard

James Harden wants you to know. He’s damn good.

Often times, once a NBA player has reached his 6th or 7th season, his reputation is fully-formed. Rotation player, starter, all-star, elite (top 10-12), and super elite (top 5). The super elite class is the hardest to break into. In recent years, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant have firmly held places in the super elite class, with Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Harden hovering around the final two spots. For years Harden has been categorized as an elite player, winning an MVP last year. However, multiple playoff failures despite stellar regular seasons dominate Harden’s reputation.

Golub: The fall of Carmelo Anthony

Melo was destined to be one of the greats.  Armed with a knife of a jab step, a buttery jumpshot, and two first names (think: Michael and Jordan, Kobe and Bryant, LeBron and James) Melo could score like few other players in the history of the game.  In what was probably his most successful year individually, 2012-2013, he hung a cool 50 on LeBron James’ Heat, nearly exclusively scoring on jumpshots. That game finds me as his crowning achievement. He shot the shots he wanted, and he was so good it didn’t matter that they were all well-defended.  He was a master artist who came of age a little too late, like a ragtime drummer born just at the tail-end of jazz’s heyday. I can’t say I’m an unabashed Melo fan. I’ve long criticized him, including getting into a fight with my high school point guard about how Paul George was better because he played defense.  I eventually conceded my point out of deference to the Knicks, but deep down I still thought I’d rather have PG. Blemishes will stain Melo’s career when it’s all said and done, which is increasingly appearing to be closer to fruition than I expected. And that’s okay. It’s what he deserves.