James Harden is one of the best players at using his body and changing his tempo coming off of high ball screens. In the NBA, most teams focus their offense around ball screen action when they have a dynamic player like James Harden. Harden draws a ton of fouls and gets to the free throw line because he's able to draw contact and he also keeps his defender off balance.
In the video below we will focus on 3 different scoring options when using the high ball screen. All three of these looks can change depending on what your defender is doing and also what the other players around you are doing as well!
James Harden Hesitation Moves
SPLIT THE SCREEN
The first action we worked on was the "split the screen" action. Usually the screener's defender will be showing up the line and your primary defender will be shadowing you coming off the screen. Most coaches teach the screener's defender to stay attached to the player so that the offensive player can't split, but this is a tough guard being that you don't want the offensive player turning the corner either. Offensively you want to attack that screen hard planting that outside foot so the defender shows hard to give you that gap to split the screen. A lot of advanced players will almost throw the ball through that gap and chase it so that defender's hands won't get on it. James Harden and Kyrie Irving are really good at splitting the screen this way. Once you split the screen you will have your defender on your back and will have an open lane to make a play or score yourself.
CREATE SPACE USING BODY AND HESITATION
The second offensive option we worked on was using your body to create separation from the defender. In this one we are simulating your main defender shadowing you again off the screen and the screener's defender is showing flat. Typically the defender will do that to contain the offensive player until the primary defender gets back. Offensively you want to freeze the defender showing flat with a hesitation so that the defender will be stuck in a tough spot. When you hesitate you want to use your body and potentially bump your primary defender behind you. This will slow the defender down because they don't want to commit a foul and will also often times help you draw fouls like James Harden does. When you create that body contact, you want to explode out of it and create space to either score or make a play for a teammate.
DRAG DRIBBLE INTO CROSS-BACK SHOT
The last scoring option we worked on was the drag dribble coming back the opposite way for the shot. Often times coaches will tell the screener's defender to show hard or hedge hard which is meant to make the offensive player dribble away from the basket. Typically you would split the screen on this but if the coach wants to test your shooting ability, they will tell the primary defender to go under the screen and this will take away that option. If the primary defender goes under the screen, then you want to drag dribble and make a quick move going the opposite way. Coaches will oftern teach the screener to turn and rescreen the defender. But even if they don't, you will usually have an open shot coming back the opposite way since the primary defender went under the screen.
In all three of these scoring options you want to make sure that you are reading the defense properly knowing that they may switch it up each time down the court. James Harden does a tremendous job reading and knowing where all the defenders on the court are. Not only can he score the ball himself, but he can create opportunities for other players and that's what makes him one of the elites in the NBA!
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