clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

James Harden's defense has been extraordinary this year

New, comments

Now will people start paying attention?

I'm not going to link to other 10-minute lowlight reels here. This is all positive.

Above is not just a supercut of James Harden playing good defense. It is a supercut of James Harden playing great NBA defense. The first-team All-NBA guard is unquestionably better this year.

This video has gotten some play nationally, so maybe this will finally start changing the narrative. Not just "James Harden doesn't play defense," but from the pervasive "James Harden is trying harder this year" that's been bandied about, to "James Harden has been great defensively all season."

Clyde Drexler said during the Rockets' game against the Suns that James Harden should be first-team All-Defense this year. I told him to pump the brake on Twitter, as he should.

However, someone asked me to name a two-guard in the NBA that has been playing better defense than James Harden this year. Here's the list of guys I could conceive of who might be better: Tony Allen, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Danny Green.

There's no way Harden gets on any all-defense team, just because people have to vote him there. I will say this, however: Danny Green is the only shooting guard ahead of Harden in defensive rating, per basketball-reference. Harden continues to lead the league in Defensive Win Shares, alone in first at 1.5 (that's a cumulative stat, by the way).

Harden has more steals per game than all of the above save Tony Allen. Harden has more blocks than all but Danny Green. Harden averages 1.6 more rebounds than second-place Danny Green (5.3 to 3.7).

None of those numbers account for the work he's done matched up against power forwards, during which time he not only holds his own, he excels.

James Harden was already the best offensive shooting guard in the league. Through the quarter-mark of the NBA season, he's also the best defensive shooting guard in the league.

James Harden said "I'm the best all-around player in the NBA" this summer. After 20 incredible games, it's getting harder and harder to argue with him.