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James Harden: The Next Paul Pierce or Bust?

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)
Tyler RoseContributor IJune 21, 2009

I'm writing this article because I have seen so many different opinions on James Harden.

While some people have said he's going to be a great player, most say he's destined to be a bust.

My question is, how do you come to that conclusion?

(I'm going to act as though being asked these questions)

When I see if a player has a high ceiling, I check a list of things: height for his position, maturity, shot selection, basic fundamental skills, etc.

So does Harden have an NBA ready body? Yes, at 6'5" he's an average height SG and he's also very strong and athletic.

Does Harden have a good jump shot, and is it fundamentally sound? Yes, he scored many points with his well above average jump shot.

Well, I guess he can shoot, but can he drive, and drive strong? Yes again, he's actually a very strong finisher. He is one of the best in college basketball, up there with Blake Griffin and Johnny Flynn.

Ok, ok what about his shot selection? Well, let me see. This sophomore does whatever it takes for his team to win. He shoots three's when needed, drives hard when needed, and yes, he even believes in his teammates in crunch time.

So if I'm correct, players who have all that don't often turn out to be busts, right? 100% correct.

Now Harden is exactly what Paul Pierce is: an enigma.

Pierce blows by defenders all the time, but does he have exceptional speed? No way. He just gets to where he wants to.

Much like young, Mr. Harden is not unbelievably fast, but just methodically gets by his defender. Like Pierce, he is more athletic than his body suggests. He's just as likely to tomahawk slam on a fast break as he is to drain a three.

In fact he's more likely to slam it. Much like young Pierce himself.

Now YOU tell me: is James Harden a bust???

Would you call Pierce a bust? Just asking, because most said he would turn out to be a bust when he was coming out of college.

I'll tell you that I am sure Peirce is one hell of a player. Just as sure as I am Harden will one day be a special player too.


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