James Harden is widely recognized as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. However, his college highlights reveal a more multifaceted player, with impressive defensive prowess and team play.
Harden was a versatile defender at Arizona State University (ASU), able to guard multiple positions. He was also a tenacious on-ball defender, using his quick feet and long arms to disrupt passing lanes and force turnovers.
For example, in a game against Oregon, Harden stole the ball from the Ducks’ point guard and drove the length of the court for a layup. In another game against Arizona, Harden blocked a shot from one of the Wildcats’ leading scorers.
Assists and Team Play
Harden was also a key contributor to ASU’s offense beyond scoring. He was a skilled passer who could create shots for his teammates. He was also a willing rebounder, averaging 5.3 rebounds per game in his two seasons at ASU.
One example of Harden’s passing ability came in a game against UCLA, when he drove to the basket and drew a double team. He then kicked the ball out to his open teammate on the perimeter for a three-point shot. In another game against Washington, Harden grabbed a rebound and started the fast break with a long outlet pass to his teammate for a layup.
“James was a very versatile defender. He could guard multiple positions, and he was always willing to take on the toughest defensive assignment. He was also a very unselfish player. He was always looking to pass the ball to his teammates, and he was a great rebounder for his position.”
Harden’s Skill Spectrum at ASU
During his time at ASU, Harden honed his skills in all facets of the game. He became a more efficient scorer, a better defender, and a more skilled passer. He also developed a more diverse offensive repertoire, adding new moves and shots to his game.
Harden became a more consistent shooter from all three levels of the court. He also improved his free throw shooting, which is crucial for any high-volume scorer.
For example, in his sophomore season at ASU, Harden shot 44.7% from the field, 36.8% from three-point range, and 84.7% from the free throw line.
Harden developed into one of the most skilled ball-handlers in college basketball. He was able to create separation from his defender and create shots for himself and his teammates.
One example of Harden’s ball-handling skills came in a game against Oregon State, when he drove past multiple defenders and finished with a reverse layup.
Harden became a more efficient finisher at the rim. He also developed a floater and a post game, which made him more difficult to defend.
For example, in his sophomore season at ASU, Harden shot 64.5% from two-point range. He also averaged 4.0 free throw attempts per game.
Harden became a more skilled passer. He was able to find open teammates in transition and in the half-court.
For example, in a game against Arizona, Harden drove to the basket and drew a double team. He then kicked the ball out to his open teammate on the perimeter for a three-point shot.
“James was one of the best passers I’ve ever played with. He always knew where his teammates were, and he could make any pass. He was also a great rebounder for his position.”
Videographic Voyage and Statistic Spotlight
In this play from a game against Washington, Harden demonstrates his defensive prowess, passing ability, and finishing skills.
Harden starts on the perimeter, defending the Washington point guard. The point guard tries to drive to the basket, but Harden stays in front of him and forces a turnover. Harden then picks up the ball and starts the fast break.
Harden drives the length of the court and draws a double team. He then kicks the ball out to his open teammate on the wing. The teammate misses the three-point shot, but Harden grabs the rebound and finishes with a layup.
- Harden averaged 1.5 steals per game in his two seasons at ASU.
- He also had a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which demonstrates his ability to take care of the ball.
- Harden averaged 61.9% from two