Former NBA MVP James Harden is a top 5 defender in the post. The Nets star can make things difficult for his opponents during post-ups.
It would not be wrong to say that James Harden is one of the most elite scorers in NBA history. The Nets star is one of the best offensive talents in the league. Harden has a long-range game and can finish at the rim as well.
However, there is a notion that Harden doesn’t play defense. One of his biggest criticisms over the years has been his disinterest in guarding the opposition. Although, the 9x All-Star has averaged 1.6 SPG so far in his career.
Weighing in at 220 pounds, Harden definitely has the physical strength to give the Bigs of the league a run for their money. According to a report in 2019, the former Rockets player was allowing only 0.727 points on the 304 possessions he defended.
A recent statistic reveals Harden ranks at no 4 when it comes to holding his opponents to the lowest FG% during post-ups.
James Harden is an elite post-up defender.
According to a recent statistic, opponents made just 36.1% of their post-up attempts when Harden was guarding them. This is surprising, considering Harden is a point guard. The above stat is based on the players who have at least defended 35 shot attempts.
Per @InStatBasket, these defenders held opponents to the lowest FG% on post-ups last season (min. 35 shots faced):
1. Rudy Gobert 💪 – 31.8%
T2. Julius Randle – 34.8%
T2. Bam Adebayo – 34.8%
4. James Harden 😮 – 36.1%
5. Steven Adams – 36.2% pic.twitter.com/R3hoD2poPH
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) September 5, 2021
Former 6th man of the year, Harden was the only guard to make it to the list. Harden defended 61 post-up shots, which were second among guards behind Jrue Holiday. Since his MVP season, Harden has kept his opponents under 43%, which has consecutively decreased every season.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the top players in the league when it comes to making post-up shots. The Klaw made an impressive 57.8% of his post-up shots last season but didn’t make a single shot over Harden.
An interesting fact is Harden ranks above the 6″11′ Steven Adams. The Killer Kiwi is a mountain of a man and one of the best screen and roll players. Harden is only two positions behind the 3x DPOY Rudy Gobert.