Ranking James Harden's 5 Most Dangerous Offensive Weapons
Last season was a breakout year for Harden. After coming to the Rockets in a trade with Oklahoma City, he stepped into the spotlight and proved that he can be the go-to-guy. He went from coming off the bench in OKC to anchoring the Rockets as their premier scorer.
Harden is one of the best scorers in the league. He finished fifth in the NBA in points per game with a little under 26.
Harden has quite the arsenal of offensive weapons which make him so lethal with the ball. He has a deadly three-point shot, a quick Eurostep and a strong drive to the rim.
This slideshow ranks the top five moves Harden uses to run up the scoreboard.
This is a list of Harden's offensive moves. Therefore, defensive moves cannot be considered, although that probably doesn't change anything due to Harden's less-than-stifling defensive tactics.
The list is purely ranked on the effectiveness of each of his moves. The more successful the move is and the more often it is used, the higher it is on the list.
5. The 3-Point Shot
Harden is a fantastic scorer both inside and outside. The Rockets love to take a lot of threes, attempting more than any other team besides the Knicks last season. Harden was a big part of that, attempting nearly 500 threes himself last season and hitting on 37 percent of them.
Harden excels at attacking the rim, which I will get to later.
Therefore, defenders have to be prepared for him to drive, which leaves him more room to hit the three. His three-point shot is a consistent and vital part of his arsenal.
The video above shows Harden hitting 7-of-9 from three-point land against his former team in the playoffs. The Rockets won this Game 5 in OKC and Harden's threes were the main reason why they pulled off the upset to keep their playoff hopes alive.
4. The Crossover
For a 2-guard, Harden has pretty good ball-handling skills. He actually does the majority of the ball-handling for the Rockets because he runs the pick-and-roll.
The Rockets offense consists mostly of Harden pick-and-rolls and isolations.
On isolations, Harden uses fancy dribbling and deceptive quickness to get into the paint area and attack the rim.
His crossover comes in handy on the fast break as well, which can be seen in the video above. Harden crosses over Jrue Holiday and is able to knife his way into the lane for the easy layup.
3. The Pick-and-Roll Dish
The Rockets love to run the pick-and-roll with Harden. It is their main focus on offense.
When Harden runs the pick-and-roll, he draws so much attention to himself that other players become wide open. Harden can be a terrific passer and he is able to find the open man for the easy dunk or the wide open three off the pick-and-roll time and time again.
In the video above, Harden uses the pick-and-roll to get into the lane. When the defense collapses, he makes the perfect pass for an easy dunk by Greg Smith.
2. The Eurostep
Many of the Rockets' points come on the fast break. The young guys like to run other teams out of the building and get out on the break as much as possible.
Harden is a superior finisher on the fast break. He is able to get to the rim whenever he wants and get the easy basket or foul—many times both. Harden's best move to get to the rim is the Eurostep, whereby he steps from side to side and confuses the defender.
In this video from the 2012-13 All-Star Game, Harden makes Luol Deng look silly after his perfect Eurostep, leading to the easy score.
1. The Drive and Strong Hands
This last offensive move is Harden's most important one. His drive and strong hands make him one of the league's most dangerous scorers.
When he attacks the basket, he teases the defender by holding the ball out in front of him. This way, the defender goes after the ball, committing a foul almost every time.
Harden's hands are so strong that he can absorb the contact and still get off a good shot, which is why he makes a lot of baskets after the foul. He also is an above-average free-throw shooter.
A large portion of Harden's points come from the charity stripe. Harden attempted more free throws than anyone else in the league last season at over 11 per game. He shot 85 percent from the line, which means he collected a ton of points in that fashion.
The video above explains how he draws fouls and is still able to make the bucket for the three-point play.