So we’ve heard the biggest knock on James Harden was lack of athleticism and size, and if his game would translate from college to the pros. Watching him at Arizona St., I had my doubts too. He didn’t impress me much. He seemed kind of methodical on the court. Crafty, knew how to get his shot, work his way inside, take his time, get his defender off balance, make the high percentage play. Being a left hander worked to his advantage, and he played with supreme confidence. I think his confidence and leadership quality on the court were most impressive. But as an athlete, or having one dominant skill that would translate to the NBA, I was not super impressed. If any player was going to get exposed at the draft combines, I figure it might be James Harden, either in measuring out @ 6’3 1/2 being slower than molasses, barely jumping over a phone book, benching pressing less than Beno Udrih...you get the idea.
Well...here’s how James Harden measures up to arguably the best shooting guard , OK, 2nd best shooting guard in the world, Dwayne Wade, and his 2003 pre-draft measurements. By the way, do you think OKC and Memphis, and Sac, might be studying these same numbers?
Harden is a quarter inch TALLER than Wade w/o shoes, a half-inch taller with shoes. (I guess Harden has thicker socks, or doubles up to avoid a case of the blisties.) Harden weighs 10 pounds more. Their wingspans are identical. Harden has the GREATER standing reach by 1.5 inches. Their standing vertical jump is identical. Harden has a BETTER running vertical by 2 inches (37 to 35). Harden is stronger in bench press (17 to 9). Dwayne Wade has better lane agility by a little over a half of a second (11.1 to 10.56). In terms of sprint speed, (3/4 of court run) Wade is barely faster by 5/100th of a second. Harden’s is a big tubbie in terms of body fat @ 10.1% to Wade’s 6.7%
Any question scouts and GMs had over Harden’s size or athleticism should be put to rest with these measurements. He tests out superior to Wade in most categories, agility being the one exception. The argument can made as Harden gets in better shape as he has shown a commitment to do since collegiate season ended, and his body fat drops to the 6 to 8 % range, he will be able to match Wade in agility too.
So what does it all mean? Pure speculation, of course, and you cannot quantify intangibles like toughness, heart, competitive spirit and drive to be great like Wade has in spades, but I see Harden as a lock Top #4 guy, especially if he shows he can shoot (with range) in the individual work-outs. What lotto team picking #2 to #5 does not need the next potential Dwayne Wade as part of their starting five?
Where does it leave us then? It means Rubio or Thabeet falls to #4. So I am envisioning a Top 3 of some combination of Griffin-Rubio-Harden, or Griffin-Harden-Thabeet, or Griffin-Thabeet-Rubio. If it’s the latter, which may be the most likely scenario, then we are looking at a draft board of Jrue Holiday, James Harden, or Tyreke Evans.
Then, Geoff Petrie has to decide does he try to fill a need at PG (Evans, Holiday, Jennings) or does he pick the player with best potential for stardom (Harden). When you win 17 games, have no leader, no superstar, I don’t think you can afford to pick based on need. Take the guy who has the best chance to be great, and worry about your PG another day.
P.S. I am not saavy enough to provide the links to the stats referenced above. If anyone would like to add these, please be my guest.
James Harden 6' 4" 6' 5.25" 222 6' 10.75" 8' 7.5" 10.1 31.5 11' 3" 37.0 11' 8.5" 17 11.10 3.13 NA 3
Dwyane Wade 6' 3.75" 6' 4.75" 212 6' 10.75" 8' 6" 6.7 31.5 11' 1.5" 35.0 11' 5" 9 10.56 3.08 14 5