Real Time Analytics

James Harden: Shut Up And Play

Why James Harden Needs To Just Focus On His Game, Offensively And Defensively

James Harden has apparently become a guru on all things NBA. The link below shows a 20-second clip of his promotional interview for the NBA2K15 video game.

Sure, sound arguments could be made here for Stephen Curry being the best pure shooter, Kevin Durant being the best all-around scorer, and Anthony Davis being the best shot-blocker in the game today. 

However, James Harden’s self-proclamation of being the best all-around player in the NBA is not only wrong (see James, LeBron on, but also completely stupid.

But wait! At least he’s confident right?


James Harden, from one of your biggest fans, it is time to shut up and play.

The man behind the beard cannot seem to stay out of the media spotlight or to avoid causing controversy. Save his statement last September of “I’m for sure a top-10 player in the league,” because at the time he was very close to being a top-10 player, and after this past season he exhibited offensively, Harden is without a doubt among the league’s top players. 

Let’s instead go back to last month, when Harden stated that his former running mate Chandler Parsons was “just a role player,” and “replaceable,” after Parsons signed a contract with the Dallas Mavericks. The public backlash was fierce, and Parsons was upset. Besides, it is quite possible that without Chandler Parsons, the Rockets would have had a difficult time making the playoffs last year, as they couldn’t even manage to get out of the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers. Since the original comments were made, Harden backtracked in a separate interview prior to a Team USA practice, saying that Parsons will definitely be missed. Not long after this interview, Harden sat down with ESPN’s Scoop Jackson, for an exclusive interview about all things basketball for Team USA. In this interview, Jackson asked Harden who the best player alive was at the moment. Harden, without pause, stated, “Myself.”

Finally, this week, Harden told the world that he was the best all-around player in the NBA. Harden is only 25 years old, and entering his third season as a full-time starter this fall. With the Rockets, as the unquestioned star aside Dwight Howard, Harden has yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs, which makes him no better than Carmelo Anthony in the playoff discussion. Harden is young, and a proven all-star player who can score the basketball just as well as anyone in the game today. According to, Harden has averaged 25.9 and 25.4 points per game respectively over his first two seasons as a full-time starter. Additionally, he posted respectable shooting percentages of 43.8% and 45.6%, putting him among the most efficient scorers in basketball the last couple of seasons. If the argument was whether or not Harden was one of the game’s most efficient offensive players, Harden would without question be in the discussion. But as we all well know, basketball is played on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, and the latter for Harden is a struggle to say the least. He just simply does not play the defense of an elite all-around player. 

Don’t believe me? Here’s some video proof.

If this video isn’t enough for you, there is one extremely telling statistic of his lack of defensive awareness. Harden’s Real Defensive Plus-Minus, which measures an individual’s impact on total team defensive performance was a startlingly poor -2.84, which ranks him 73rd in the NBA among shooting guards, not even among all active players, according to Additionally, in his first two seasons as a full-time starter, Harden has averaged less than six assists per game and less than five rebounds per game. As Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver stated in a recent article, the best way to combat James Harden’s best all-around player argument is to directly compare him to LeBron James. LeBron led Harden in every statistical category this past season, including points, rebounds, blocks, assists, shooting percentage, three-point shooting percentage, and true shooting percentage. Case closed, Lebron James is the best all-around player in the NBA at the moment.

While Harden has continuously made bold comments about his playing ability, it is important to realize that this is a book that is not even close to completely written. Harden is a young player who is still adjusting to becoming a full-time starter. He can shoot the lights out of the arena when he is hot, but his defense still needs to improve to even be mentioned in the same breath as an all-around force like LeBron James. 

There is little doubt in my mind that there will be an NBA MVP in Harden’s future in this league. He holds too much promise to not live up to those expectations.

But until then, James Harden.

Just shut up and play.

Edited by Lauren Anderson.

Which shooting guard led the NBA in Defensive Real Plus-Minus in the 2013-2014 season?
Created 8/21/14
  1. Vince Carter
  2. Tony Allen
  3. Jimmy Butler
  4. Ray Allen

Join the conversation! 1 comment


What do you think?

Please log in or register to comment!

Can't get enough SQ?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter here!