James Harden is probably one of the one or two best shooting guards in the NBA today. Nobody is better at drawing contact on the way to the rim, and Harden’s an elite distributor when he wants to be. He has the physical tools and quickness to be a great defender, but it hasn’t shown itself in his play, especially last season.
Synergy — which tracks offensive and defensive possessions that end in a shot, foul or turnover — ranked Harden in the 18th percentile for defense, considered “below average,” and in the 84th percentile for offense, which is “excellent.”
Regardless of that disparity, James Harden averaged 29.0 points, 7.5 assists and 6.1 rebounds in 38.1 minutes per game last season. Those are monstrous per-game averages, and they’re the foundation for the video above from Mike Korzemba. Those numbers combined with the fact James Harden didn’t make an All-NBA team this year — after making the First Team the preceding two seasons — are the basis for Korzemba’s 12-minute video going through various reasons why James Harden is “the most underrated player of all time.”
First, though, the beginning of the video is confusing. Korzemba calls Beard “overrated” for some reason:
That’s obviously just a mistake. He meant to say underrated, as the title of his video and ensuing argument prove. Still, it threw us off for a second because that’s how a lot of people feel about Harden; they think he’s overrated. We’ll come back to why in a bit.