By Justin Bridgman
Executive Assistant/Video Editor
Last month we took a look at some of the iTrainedU skills James Harden uses in his game, even if he might not realize it. Those skills allow him to be one of the most lethal one on one players in basketball and we are here to break down more of the moves that Harden showcases in his game.
Objective of the Offense: Create Space
There are three ways to create space according to the iTrainedU manual: vertically, horizontally, and by drawing double and triple teams to set up teammates. In the clip below, Harden shows the third option, drawing a double team. Harden uses a screen from Dwight Howard to move past the defender and attack the basket, the man who was supposed to guard Howard stays with Harden, leaving Howard completely open. Harden recognizes this, and rather than continuing with his drive, he throws a lob to Howard for an easy basket.
That play shows the benefit that one player’s moves can have for the entire team. If Howard’s defender does not try to cut off Harden, Harden has an easy layup. When he does cut off Harden, the result is an easy dunk for Howard. Great players are not just looking to create their own shots, they are looking to create the easiest shots possible for their teammates as well. By being able to recognize the space he created for his teammate, and passing the ball, Harden once again demonstrates why he is an “unlocked” player.
Finishing Move: Euro Step
You’ll see later this week a full breakdown of the Euro Step, and Harden makes a few appearances. The example below is just another instance of Harden using the Euro Step, which has become his signature move. Harden comes off the screen and already has Meyers Leonard in the matrix. He takes a long step to the left while he single-packs the ball, then suddenly takes another giant step to the right. Leonard has no chance to stop him at this point, because his hips are twisted in the wrong direction and he can’t recover in time. Leonard has to put his hand out and foul Harden, and Harden makes the shot anyway.
This is the kind of move that an “unlocked” player can make at any time. Harden’s move is so quick that even though he started it in the passive zone, the defender still isn’t quick enough to stop it. We call this getting the defender in the matrix on confusion, where they are more or less powerless to stop your moves. Leonard is completely fooled by the first part of this Euro Step, and it gave Harden a chance for a three point play.
Initial Attack: Low Ball
Low ball is a great way to create space, especially when a defender is in the active zone. In the clip below Harden uses low ball to move the defender’s hands down and then forces the defender to jump back. At this point in the play, Harden once again has the defender in the matrix. Low ball forced the defender back into the neutral zone, and now Harden goes to work.
He decides to use a quick crossover into a step back jumper, which effectively creates the necessary space to get his shot off. As an added bonus for Harden, he ends up getting fouled by the defender who closed out too aggressively after he had already been beat. Everything that took place on this particular play happened because Harden used an aggressive low ball to move the defender from his active zone.
Harden is such a wonderful example of the moves we are teaching at iTrainedU. His game shows an understanding of spacing, knowledge of footwork, and awareness of how he is being defended. This is the vision iTrainedU has for all of our players, to become truly “unlocked” and capable of playing like this every game.