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James Harden breaks down his game, drops sage advice for The Player’s Tribune

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James Harden breaks down the moves that made him the reigning MVP in a video for The Player’s Tribune.

Screen Capture from The Player’s Tribune

When I was watching the video of James Harden explaining his game for The Player’s Tribune, I could think only one thing:

“Damn. This guy would be impossible to guard.”

I know that sounds funny, because he’s a top-five player, but really just watch the video and think about it for a second.

He’s breaking down the moves in slow motion, but the fact that he’s able to perform them in, as he puts it, “two seconds; maybe less than that,” is incredible.

Shea Serrano best describes what it’s like to try and guard Harden.

How many times have we seen a lob to Clint Capela actually turn out to be a floater for two points? How many times have we seen him lull players to sleep and then blow past them? Or, my favorite, when it looks like he’s dribbling into a mess and then turns that into a step-back jumper.

He has an endless array of moves, and to hear him talk about it is daunting. It’s the mere fact that what looks like improvisation is actually practiced, anticipated, and executed as a plan. He’s practiced every look the defense could possibly give him.

It reminds me of this Black Panther quote:

If you think I’m being hyperbolic, just remember that Gregg Popovich once said he doesn’t watch film, “except for the Rockets. Harden is ridiculous.”

And before you get on him for being flashy and all offensive-minded, he gives some great advice on work ethic.

“But that takes a lot of hard work. Whatever I do in a game, I work on it every single day. Repetition. Every single day. I’m not gonna work on something that I don’t do in a game, that I wouldn’t try in a game, because it’s a waste of time.”

I think that part of his game, his work ethic, is taken for granted. We see the clips of him drawing fouls, the stats around his free throws, and people assume that he’s taken the easy way out when it comes to basketball. The truth is if he wasn’t an immediate threat every time he touched the basketball, he couldn’t get those calls, and he couldn’t create contact.

His hard work has given him the opportunity to use the rules to his benefit.

Lastly, Harden does a great job of expounding why it’s important to not work on moves that aren’t beneficial to your game.

“I think a lot of kids are doing that nowadays. You know, working on different moves cause you see different trainers or different whatever- someone on Instagram. No. This about going in the gym, putting the work in- something that you need to work on, and want to be great at... and don’t just sit in the gym, wasting your time. “

Fan of his or not, you have to hand it to the reigning MVP. The Beard is as wise as he is deadly.