Watch James Harden Break Ankles & Play Shut Down Defense vs Elite 24 All-Stars
I can’t recall a player in NBA history who has been picked on more than James Harden for being a “bad defender.” He’s been picked on so much that a lot of people spell his last name “Haren.” On YouTube, there’s multiple videos about his (lack of) defense with half to near a million views. There’s a video called “Kid crosses over James Harden” with 1.7 million views and another called “Chris Brown dunks over James Harden” with 2.3 million; 2.3 million is more views than any video of Harden making a game-winner, crossover or dunk and he’s had a lot of impressive game-winners, crossovers (sometimes leading to a game-winner) and dunks! His defense has been made fun of so much that he and Footlocker even made a commercial making fun of his defense.
But I’m in the minority that likes to defend (no pun intended) James Harden and it’s not because we both live in Houston. So while I was recently revisiting some footage of Aaron and Andrew Harrison – the twins that dominated Houston high school basketball a few years ago – I came across this awesome 2012 video in our archives showing Brandon Jennings, DeMar “I’m not wearing a One Direction T-shirt” DeRozan and James “Really needs a dry T-shirt” Harden playing against the Twins, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and other future pros at the Under Armour Elite 24 Midnight Run.
If you go to the 1:44 second mark, you will witness a very intense looking Harden showing more effort on defense than probably any time you can recall during his NBA career. First he rips the player, then crosses him and hits a jumper, skips down the court in his soaked shirt, gets back on D, claps his hands, makes the player give up the ball, then shuts him down again, claps, then forces him to miss a shot he really didn’t wan to take.
There’s also a nice ankle-breaker and 3 by Harden at the 1:11 mark of that video but we know he’s capable of doing that.
Let’s move on to the next video from the same Elite 24 scrimmage.
If you go to the 1:20 mark, you will see Andrew Harrison having a little more success going 1-on-1 and hitting a jumper over James Harden. You will also notice the effort on D by Harden.
So what got the “worst defensive player in the league” so hyped up to be a “shut-down defender” that day? Maybe it was Harrison’s block on Harden (1:25 mark); You can tell that play was from the beginning of the scrimmage because Harden’s shirt was one color.
And if you are interested in seeing more of Andrew Harrison and why many scouts had him ranked as the #1 shooting guard in the nation, check out this mix showing him at the Elite 24 scrimmage, game and killing every defender living around H-Town.