Jimmy Butler is one of the better wing defenders in today’s league. Back in 2020, the Miami Heat superstar explained why and how is James Harden one of the 5 toughest players he ever guarded.
James Harden is one of the most dynamic scorers the league has ever witnessed. Ever since Harden split ways with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder, The Beard has seen a huge jump in his offensive abilities. And since then, James has only been improving and refining his superstar-level game year after year.
There is virtually no player in the history of the league who has been able to master the deadly step-back move as perfectly as James Harden. And with the combination of his smooth handles, accurate shooting and strong finishing at the rim, the Brooklyn Nets superstar has racked himself a pretty decorated resume.
Over the course of his 12-year career, the 6-foot-5 sharpshooter has appeared in 9 All-Star Games, being selected for 7 All-NBA teams, won three scoring titles and was even awarded the prestigious MVP trophy after a stellar 2017-2018 campaign. Oh and he achieved this all while averaging 25.1 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game on 44/36/86 shooting splits.
Even the most elite defenders haven’t quite found a way to prevent Harden from going on a scoring rampage. Jimmy Butler is one of the many stars, who despite being a top defender, has been crossed up by the Brooklyn star.
“James Harden is always hitting though shots”: Jimmy Butler
Back in early 2020, Jimmy Buckets was asked to name the five toughest players he has ever guarded. After naming LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving, Butler also mentioned James Harden. In his “The Players’ Tribune” article, the Heat forward reasoned:
“Step-back. Floater. Euro step. He has so much in his package, and he’s always hitting tough shots. I mean, he’s creating new sh*t in the off-season where he’s shooting one-legged, step-back, side-step … pretty soon he’s gonna do a handstand and kick the motherf**ker in the basket.
I’m just being real. This is what James Harden does.
Everything he does starts with his step-back. He’s legendary for it. Some people say it’s a travel. I say if the ref doesn’t call it, I’m all for it. Find a way to stop it, travel or not. But his whole attack is built off that step-back. He hangs the ball out there and teases you with it, and then he waits for you to make a move. He’s reading you. Whatever you decide to do, he’s got a counter for it. Because if you give him too much space, he’s gonna take the step-back, and probably make it. If you get too close to him — if you try to get up into him and take the shot away — he’s either going to lean into you and draw a foul or blow right by you and take it to the basket.
He’s one of those guys you game plan for. Like you go into the game saying, “We’re not gonna let James drop 40 on us.” And he still drops 40 on you. That’s the mark of an unstoppable player.”
Jimmy Butler called The Beard more unstoppable than Kevin Durant
Sure James Harden is a tough assignment for any defender. But is he the most unstoppable player in the NBA? Well, according to Jimmy, Harden is definitely the most unstoppable player… even over the likes of Kevin Durant.
“I think if you asked multiple people who the most unstoppable player in the league is right now, it would be a toss-up between a healthy KD and James.
But if you ask me? It’s James Harden, for the win.”