Q&A with Sure-Fire Top Five Pick James Harden from NBA Pre-Draft Combine

Ryan MillerCorrespondent IJune 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:  Guard James Harden #13 of the Arizona State Sun Devils goes up for a dunk against the Arizona Wildcats during the Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at the Staples Center on March 12, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With the Internet and all the information that’s out there and mock drafts, do you ever check them out to see what’s going on?

I did. I did. But now it’s all out there and guys don’t know where they’re going. Now it’s a process of working out and trying to get a spot on a team. The guys here in Chicago are in the same situation as I am.



Where do you think you’re going?

I have no idea yet. Hopefully in the top five range is my predication.



Do you have workouts scheduled?
Yeah, I have workouts set up later in June. I don’t know which teams. Maybe Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento and Washington.



Is there a team you think you could really play well in their system?
There are a couple teams. Oklahoma City is young and have a two-spot open, which is a great fit. Washington has a great chance of making the playoffs next year, so there are a couple great situations I can be in.



Is there a player in the league you resemble?

Two players, [Manu] Ginobili and Paul Pierce put together, who can find his way to the basket, can shoot the pull-up and deep three balls. Whatever the coach needs him to do he’ll do.



What do people miss when they look at you with what some of the mock drafts are saying about you?

My athleticism. They say I’m not athletic but I feel I can get up there with those guys. I can jump. I probably didn’t show it as much as they wanted me to during the season but I can get up there. And my mid-range game is something I needed to work on over these last two months and I think I’ve improved a lot on that.



Which player did you try to model your game after?

I’m an L.A. guy, so Kobe. He’s a guy I would go home after school and watch him play and see what he has in store.



Have you meet Kobe?

Yeah, I have. We have the same agent so I’ve met him a couple times. Even when I’m back home working out, I’ll go to the Lakers games and watch him play in the playoffs.



Do individual workouts tell your whole story or should we look at what you accomplished at Arizona State?

I think individual is part of it, showing skills you can do as an individual, but put me out there with a good group of guys that want to win and I think I can show more than just my individual talent. I’m not just as scorer, I can pass the ball. I think those last two years at Arizona State helped me because I was a facilitator more than a scorer.



How crazy has this week been? They woke you up at 6:30 this morning?
Yeah, which is like 3:30 or 4:30 in L.A. so it’s really crazy. They just have us doing so much. It’s fun because you get to be around these guys and get to meet the guys. You actually see them play in games and you get to meet them and talk to them in person. I guess it makes the process a lot better just to have fun with it.



Was it just the agility workouts today?
Yeah, we had agility and little workouts today, the vertical tomorrow. I didn’t participate today (he’s too cool). We had the physical and took shots. They weighed us and took our height and things like that.



So your vertical is tomorrow and you mentioned how people might underestimate you vertical. I’ll be back tomorrow to check on your vertical then.

(Laughs) Yeah, I’ll get to prove some people wrong.


NOTE: Harden was right. His 37” vertical jump was tied with Louisville’s Terrence Williams and tied for seventh out of 48 participants, and Harden clocked in at 11.10 seconds in the lane agility, which is almost identical to Chris Paul’s time. He also benched 185 pounds 17 times, but did have the sixth highest body fat percentage at the combine (10.1 percent).


NBA Pre-draft Combine Results

Height w/o shoes: 6' 4"
Height w/ shoes: 6' 5.25"
Weight: 222
Wingspan: 6' 10.25"
Standing Reach: 8' 7.5"
Body Fat: 10.1 percent
No Step Vert. 31.5
Max Vert. 37.0
Bench Press: 17
Lane Agility: 11.10
3/4 Court Sprint: 3.13 sec.