Draft 2K9 - James Harden
College: Arizona State
Position: Shooting Guard
Drafted: No. 3 by Oklahoma City
The second-best shooting guard prospect in the draft, Harden is a pure scorer from the perimeter. A left-handed deadeye shooter that carried the offensive load for Arizona State throughout the 2008-09 season. Harden's silky smooth delivery improved in his sophomore year while he averaged 20 points a game and 35.6 percent from the 3-point line. Despite a lack of height for the position, Harden has a solid build to shrug off some of the best defenders in the league to create space for his step-back jumper. Harden can finish around the rim when forced to drive to the lane and even showed a developing game with his back to the basket. From all accounts, Harden is a mature player at the young age of 20.
Teams looking for an athletic player on the wing will want to stray from drafting Harden. In the NBA, most two guards are at least 6-6 or taller, which could present difficult matchups on both sides of the floor for the 6-5 Harden. The scouting report on Harden is to run him off the 3-point line and make him shoot from the midrange. He tends to favor the left side while ignoring opportunities to score from the right. Harden placed a bitter taste in the mouth of NBA scouts who watched his NCAA tournament performances. In two games, Harden was remarkably ineffective by shooting 3-for-18 and scoring 19 points. Harden finished the season with a fizzle instead of exploding on the national stage.
The Wolves would not necessarily address a need by drafting Harden at the shooting guard spot. Randy Foye benefited greatly from the move to the two guard this past season and will most likely remain at that position in 2009-10. Like most teams in the draft, Minnesota might be interested in Harden for his lethal shooting skills. The Wolves finished last in the league in field goal percentage and only shot 35.3 percent from the 3-point line. Harden would offer a deep threat when Al Jefferson looks for open shooters after the double team collapses in the paint. Another option for the Wolves is to send Foye back to the point guard position and start Harden in the backcourt.
Round 1: Arizona State 66, Temple 57
Round 2: Syracuse 78, Arizona State 67
Chad Ford's Top 100
"Harden isn't the most explosive player in the draft, and he lacks ideal size for a shooting guard. But he can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Harden's not flashy, but he's lethally effective."
"James Harden’s situational statistics should ease many of the concerns teams have about his game. It appears that he's one of those players who "finds a way to get by" despite his shortcomings."
"Very smooth and crafty wing player … Used his sophomore season to add new dimensions to his game, and he proved to be a steady and consistent scoring threat … One of the most mature and NBA ready players of his class."
Ford's Mock Draft
No. 5 to Washington
No. 3 to Oklahoma City
No. 2 to Memphis
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