While many have taken the time during social distancing and stay-at-home orders to binge Netflix shows, complete puzzles or catch up on some sleep, Houston Rockets guard James Harden went to Arizona for high-intensity workouts while the NBA season is suspended.
Kelly Iko of The Athletic detailed Harden's workout regime that included help from former Arizona State teammate Christian Polk and trainer Justin Allen, who is the younger brother of NFL tight end Dwayne Allen.
Harden has worked out Tempe, Scottsdale and Gilbert, Arizona, as well as doing outdoor work under the sun at Tempe Butte. He has been working out two or three times a day with Allen, who founded ALL-EN Sports Performance, tailoring specific workouts to what he needs.
"He said, 'I'm not coming out here to hang out and relax,'" Polk said of the eight-time All-Star. "'I want to make sure that you're getting me up early, where I'm keeping busy.'"
Iko noted Harden has focused on balance, stability and body control more so than gaining pure strength when he is in the weight room. That also means yoga and pool workouts, as well as using weights to maintain his center of gravity.
He also does work in the sand to improve his already formidable footwork and goes through running back drills with Allen, who is familiar with football workouts given his family ties and background.
Those running back drills often feature "three or four defenders in front of him," which can also apply to Harden picking apart a defense in the half-court set.
A focus on plyometrics through jump training also improves Harden's footwork, and running on the mountain with Polk is key for his explosiveness.
The ultimate goal is to be ready for the NBA season if and when it does return from a hiatus that has been in place since March 11. An NBA championship is about the only thing missing from Harden's resume that includes a league MVP, two scoring titles, six All-NBA selections and eight All-Star nods.
As for a timeline for a return when all the workouts will start paying off, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported on Wednesday that "NBA teams are expecting the league office will issue guidelines around June 1 that will allow franchises to start recalling players who've left their markets as a first step toward a formal ramp-up for the season's resumption."
Plans for a possible July start of games in centralized locations such as Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida, may be in place by June.