Harden Reflects on Pre-Draft Workouts

He never woke up in a hotel wondering what city he was in, didn’t have to conduct workouts for half of the teams in the NBA and didn’t have anxiety about where he would fall in the draft.

James Harden’s pre-draft experience was basically the opposite of teammates Byron Mullens and Eric Maynor.

After leaving Arizona State following a sophomore season in which he earned Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year, Harden knew he was a lock to be a lottery pick.

And that allowed Harden the opportunity to take an entirely different approach to the pre-draft workouts that nearly every draft prospect has to go through.

Harden can relate to what the John Walls and Evan Turners of this year’s draft class are going through. Because both are expected to be among the top picks in the June 24 NBA Draft, Wall and Turner, along with the other projected lottery picks, can be a bit selective when it comes to working out for teams.

Before the Thunder made Harden the No. 3 pick of the 2009 draft, the shooting guard worked out for just five teams. And they were spread out, with Harden working out for a team a week, which allowed him to have more time in the gym, whereas Mullens worked out for 15 teams, including eight in nine days. Another difference for Harden: he had all individual workouts.

“But they were pretty tough,” Harden recalled. “They wanted to see how I could handle myself going for an hour straight without barely any water breaks or any breaks at all. It was a mental challenge and a physical challenge to go out there and knock down shots when I’m tired.”

Harden said that having a short list of teams to work out for allowed him to remained focused on each team.

“I wasn’t worrying about anything else except the draft, not worrying about anything else other than impressing these teams,” he said. “Working out, making sure I’m getting proper sleep and making sure I’m taking care of my body.”

And while Harden knew he was lottery-bound, he said he still treated each workout like a job interview.

“You have to impress them,” he said. “You have to show them not just your basketball skills, but that you can handle yourself off the court as well, that you can carry yourself.”

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