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Thunder: James Harden has a move that drives defenders nuts

Harden has developed a knack for drawing contact on drives to the basket by sticking out his arms, exposing the ball while gripping it with two hands, and baiting defenders to swipe at the ball. If they do, it's a foul. If they don't, he has an unobstructed path to the basket.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 8, 2012

In the fourth quarter against Dallas on Monday night, Harden exploited the Mavs with the move. He scored 12 straight Thunder points to start the fourth quarter and got to the foul line seven times in the final period. Two nights later, Harden scored a career-high 30 points against Phoenix by mixing in the stick-and-move to earn a team-high 11 free throw attempts.

“He's like a running back once he sees that little hole,” Ivey said. “He's just trying to get in between there and trying to stick the ball through.”

Harden says he isn't sure where he got the move from or when exactly he started using it. But he remembers trying it a few times in games last year and seeing it work. He continued to practice it over the summer, perfecting it those inconsequential pickup games that filled the lockout, and came back for his third season armed with a new weapon.

At times, Harden combines the stick-and-move with a more popular stutter-step maneuver that has been labeled the “Eurostep.” It's an on-the-move jab in one direction before changing course and going the other.

“You don't know what to expect,” Ivey said. “You don't know how he's going to counter you, so it's just hard to guard because you never know. You think it's coming and then he might just lay you out. It's instincts with him.”

Harden has become adept at reading and reacting to defenders to make him even more effective. But it's Harden's mix of strong hands, patience and poise that has helped him excel when using the move.

“He's real poised when he gets in there. And he's not going fast,” Ivey said. “He gets his body onto people and he tries to draw that contact and then when he gets the contact he's sticking the ball out to finish a lot of the time. Or sometimes, when he doesn't have something, he sticks it out anyway and he gets that foul. The refs know to look for that.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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