Top Plays Spotlight: Hardening the ‘D’

VIDEO: James Harden is piling on the blocks during the 2014-15 season

Monday saw James Harden torment the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves for 31 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and four blocks. The world focused on the triple-double, the fourth of his career, and rightfully so. That last line, the four swats, is also a cause for recognition.

Why? Among NBA guards, Harden has the third-most blocks (46), behind only K.J. McDaniels and Danny Green. There aren’t any clamoring for him to get an All-Defensive team nod (except maybe Clyde Drexler and Daryl Morey), but his effectiveness defending the ball has ratcheted up a notch.

How is he racking up his swats? Smart weak-side help, strong hands, deceptive closeout speed, long arms, timing, timing, timing and strength. The same traits that make him a terror with the ball have emphatically caught DeMarcus Cousins, Zach Randolph (and others) off guard on the other end.

Harden has 26 games to finish off his best season and MVP submission. If he sustains his new-found tendency for rejections (his 46 blocks already are a career high), it will be harder to keep the Maurice Podoloff Trophy off his mantle. Especially with moves like this:

VIDEO: James Harden victimizes Ricky Rubio before sinking the trey


  1. jake s. says:

    I realize it’s called the all ball blog but I thought the blog was about funny things. Seems like this article belongs on the hangtime blog. Not haytin’ just sayin’.

  2. qadrir says:

    Beard is playing out of his mind. He seems so focused and I see fire in his eyes. If rest of his teammates catch up, watch out for the Rockets. How about two of the best Guard blockers on the same team. Harden and rocky KJ McDaniel. Media guys can rave about Warriors, Blazers and CAVS but watch out with D12 coming back strong, Terrance Jones, Mutijunas, & Jish Smith nkw that;s a pretty deep list of BIGS.

    • Kel says:

      Harden is very deserving of the MVP award. Curry’s got Klay. Dwight’s been out a lot, and the Rockets were supposedly going to take a step back this year without Parsons. So if I had a vote, it’d go to Harden.

  3. john says:

    easy to get a block when youve lost your man. huh

  4. red says:

    Even with the defense video above and what Harden has been performing on defense this year stupid SHAQ will always put negative stuff in the minds of nba fans that he has no D. That has got to stop!

  5. jamagliani says:

    why don’t we post a video of Harden’s on ball and transition defense? often nonexistent. Good weak side blocker though and very strong hands.

    • red says:

      there’s a lot of nba players that is weak on transition defense. i notice it whenever rockets does fast break. I often see other team not D at all and just walk instead of running.

  6. look@title says:

    Hardening the D….

  7. Bugzie says:

    well you don’t get 10+ rebounds with out playing some of kinda defense … take it easy on the dude he is balling…stop hating

  8. Bruh says:

    title= hardening the d


  9. Who cares says:

    Rockets have no chance in a title run. Harden’s overrated success this year is just the result of a league plagued by injuries. Same goes for the overrated GSW’s. Can’t wait til april

    • jake s. says:

      You’re right. The difference between those two teams and say the Spurs, Thunder, or even Mavs is that if you take the starting point guards off the floor for Rockets or Warriors, they will implode as a team.

  10. Devin says:

    OOOhhh james harden has to be the most improved defensive player, not only can he block. He is top 10 in steals too!

  11. X says:

    Harden is beast. Going to be a tough choice between Curry and him for MVP.

  12. daddyj says:

    James is 50000x better then klay ..