Analyzing James Harden's underrated playmaking game

You best believe James Harden and <a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Kevin Durant</a> will make plays all season
You best believe James Harden and Kevin Durant will make plays all season

Scary hour is here. James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets time is now to prove they are the team everyone thinks they are to win the NBA title - this season. No excuses. The Brooklyn Nets should be fully charged, right? Fully. The biggest three in the NBA, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, are all their own supernovas. All playmakers. Let's talk about one. James Harden. Such a basketball savant with a beard to boot. Playmaker Extroidinaire. A Drake with shorts on. Supreme in the flow of the music of basketball. Lyrics to go. Step backs and kick backs to fellow royalty in support on the floor - to the raucous applause oh so Brooklyn. How does James Harden do it? Why is he such a stud? He can get anywhere on the court, yet why are his playmaking skills so effective? Hmmmm, good question.

James Harden the beard

James Harden flies real low. The guy in the corner who is as social as they come, yet in spots. It's not about disrespect, it's just his flow. On the court he's a bull dog bully with the rock. "Get off me," his dribble drives say in all of left handed splendor. You see, when guarding a left-handed player, it's almost like peering into a reverse mirror. Got it? Yeah, hard to guard. Add in the skills, the chill will and the mighty vision? Cheers. Loud ones. Roof-shaking moments can be felt on TV when Brooklyn and James Harden are in a flurry. A common theme is a Brooklyn Nets win that was just so dominant that when heading to read the box score, James Harden might have 40 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists. Emotions are channeled for the next game of similar acclaim. It's all about health. Mentally and physically. He feels this year heading into training camp is something special, and the energy flows silently within - unless he's asked to address it. Then he'll tell you there is no one else but the Brooklyn Nets. The Brooklyn Nets are the only priority. No moves across the league in the offseason - even the one not made in Philly with Ben Simmons - have anything to do with a Brooklyn Nets goal.

Playmaking begins with preparation

James Harden has never been a free agent. It's all about loyalty. He signs extensions whether than test the open market. There's a bigger aim in mind than just the money. Money is there to be had, so why not focus on a true accomplishment?

When asked about his contract at Brooklyn Nets Media Day, James Harden responded as expected.

"It's not about the money to me. I've been on enough teams where we fell short. My mindset and my goal is to make sure we're able to build and continue to build this team to be able to compete and contend for multiple, multiple years at the highest level. So it's not about the money. You win a championship in New York, the money will come."

Isn't that the truth? New York magnificence begins with rehabbing hard every day. Hamstring is back to 100%. Winning time is next. That he's telling the media he's glad to see them in person is also preparation. Preemtive olive branches for everyone with a mic -- if you will. Nothing strategic; just foreshadowing a moment when a small ripple in the season is blown out of proportion and the media smiling before him now circle in the water later. Picture that. Then the basketball fantastic happens. James Harden is on the break. Christmas eyes throughout the crowd anticipating something to get them hyped on a celebratory Friday night. Kyrie shades to his right. Kevin Durant trails to his left. The defense stiffens. A James Harden spin move in the lane becomes a Pete Rock sounding pass for an Easy Money Sniper 3. Swiccup. Yeah, that's the sound. Next time it's James Harden's turn. No spin moves in the lane against a sagging defense. Sag on me? Let me give you this step back three to culminate a 28-0 run -- in the 4th quarter vs. a contender to clinch a playoff spot weeks before anyone else. The 28 points split up almost evenly amongst the biggest three -- on that hypothetical night. The next night it might be an Uncle Drew led choir song where Kyrie Irving pats down and pats down the entire frustrated team to a myriad of swiccups. The rhythm in that beat? You hear it. Yes.

James Harden, in part, on his contract extension: “I'm just taking my time with it. You know, I think over the course of my career I've never been a free agent before… I think this season I just want to focus on winning the championship.”Full @SportsCenter conversation:

What is the origin of the plays made?

Baseball was his first love. James Harden was a self-described "little Randy Johnson" and first baseman out of Los Angeles. Compton to be specific. All of the preconceived notions of what Compton is he experienced growing up. His Mom was the champion at home that got him through it all and to this point of being one of the greatest playmakers the game has seen. You look up and see a bunch of triple doubles. Not Jason Kidd triple-doubles but Oscar Robertson triple-doubles. The ones of the 30 point variety. That's certainly not a diss to Jason Kidd, but more about how much James Harden is totally affecting the box score. He could be the leading scorer one night and lead both teams in rebounding the other. Life has a way of slowing down the moment, and escaping gang life and overcoming asthma have put James Harden in a moment where he is fully flourishing. The floor becomes easy. He simply has to stay on it.


  • NBA Most Valuable Player (2018)
  • 9× NBA All-Star (2013–2021)
  • 6× All-NBA First Team (2014, 2015, 2017–2020)
  • All-NBA Third Team (2013)
  • NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2012)
  • 3× NBA scoring champion (2018–2020)
  • NBA assists leader (2017)
  • NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2010)

Will James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving win a championship?

James Harden's playmaking is a disrupter like his head coach Steve Nash was in his prime. His movements are almost unfair. James Harden is the one that stays below the rim yet can throw it down with force as well. He is a player any team can plug in - whether it's off ball or at the point - and his statistics will be consistent. His usage rate of 40.5 was at its height in 2018 in Houston, and 26.9 last season in Brooklyn. Each of the biggest three will have a lesser usage rate as the ebbs and flows of the season dictate a different Brooklyn Nets hero every night. With a bolstered roster and a healthy mindset to open training camp, NBA fans are realizing that playmakers play more than football. Will the biggest three win a championship?

Why answer that? It's only September.

Slow down the season and watch the playmaking excellence as James Harden leads the Brooklyn Nets storm. The Hall of Fame worth stats no longer matter. James Harden will be doing whatever it takes. Check left, check right, watch how he handles, distributes, scores, plays underrated defense, etc. The two-year stretch in Houston from 2018-20 can be compared favorably with any NBA season, and why James Harden is so effective can be answered by the consistent versatility in his game. He will be remembered as one leading the positionless era of basketball, and with his example, James Harden will mold playmakers all over the world not limited to their physical limitations because the resilience of James Harden's playmaking mind is incentive enough for them to thrive and inspire the next best.

Edited by Arnav

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