“Only way you stop a guy like James Harden is with the team”: Scottie Pippen gave his views on how to stop the 2018 MVP when he was wreaking havoc
|Tue Jul 12 2022
Who would be better to give a proper breakdown on how to defend the best scorer of Basketball than Scottie Pippen? Nobody.
Scottie Pippen was one of the greatest defenders of all time. The 6’8 Bulls forward was his team’s most lethal weapon, who could do all that an NBA coach dreams his superstar could do.
But the 7x All-Star’s biggest strength was his dogged defending. With his 7-foot wingspan, the small forward could guard all the positions from one through five with no hesitancy about an opposition player’s stature.
His strength allowed him to take on the likes of unstoppable Hakeem Olajuwon, and his quickness allowed him to trouble Magic Johnson throughout a playoff series (1991 Finals, Bulls’ first championship).
The 10x All-Defensive team (8x First teams and 2x Second teams) member once on the sets of ESPN discussed how he would have guarded one of this generation’s offensive juggernaut – James Harden.
When Scottie Pippen broke down how to defend a prime James Harden
Pippen told McGrady about how he would stick to Harden’s strong left side, taking him on early. He had a simple plan on how he would guard the player who was going to average 36.1 points in that 2018-19 season. The first to average 36 points or more after MJ did it in 1987.
Scottie’s plan included taking seconds away from the shot clock, so Harden wouldn’t be comfortable taking the ball up the court or initiating the offense. By being a magnet all game, he would wear him down which was his bread and butter in the 90s.
.@ScottiePippen knows a thing or two about stopping scorers.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 17, 2019
Bulls legend’s point on guarding the now Philadelphia guard from behind when T-Mac talked about the separation Harden creates with his double step-back jump shot is the ideal thing to do. That is the same way Harden’s teammate Matisse Thybulle generally guards jump shots.
And his final take in which he says defending Harden should be an entire team’s job shows his respect towards the fellow Top-75 player of all time.
Maybe NBA players heard this analysis, could be The Beard is declining, or it’s just he wants more of a second fiddle role, but defenders are getting on to the 32-year-old who averaged just 22 and 24 PPG in the last two seasons after 5 years of 29+ PPG’s.