“James is somewhat of an artist for our team,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti. “He sees things a little bit differently. It’s almost as if he’s a right-brained player. He’s an abstract thinker on the court — he’s not simply connecting the dots, but he’s seeing things and that gives us a different dimension.”
With Eric Maynor’s season-ending injury and a growing emphasis on passing in Oklahoma City, James Harden has found himself in the ideal position to showcase his playmaking ability. By all metrics, he’s been dishing out more assists while maintaining a similar turnover rate from last year. His assist rate has jumped to 23.18 so far in the season, which is a pretty good number for a wing. But beyond the numbers, there must be something aiding his growth in this area, right? …And, honest to goodness, I … I think it’s his beard.
Here’s how and why:
1. Harden’s beard/mohawk combo greatly distort his body proportions, creating a discrepancy in speed perception.
That beard looks like it adds at least five pounds to Harden’s body. While it seems as though Harden has lost a bit of weight in the past two offseasons, the volume of Harden’s head has grown considerably since his rookie season, thus giving the illusion that he’s just as big, or bigger than he was. It’s like what they teach you in the case that you are ever in the presence of a bear. Widen your stance and stretch out your limbs to appear bigger than you are. Harden’s insane facial hair accomplishes the same thing. In terms of speed, Harden doesn’t have twitchy jerks in his movement like Derrick Rose, but he has extremely quick feet, which can be intimidating when you’re expecting some pudgy, beardy guy with the footspeed of John Salmons. Once he gets past his defender, the court is his canvas.
2. The beard is the secret to Harden’s no-look passes.Â
Why? Simple. He dives into the paint. His body is moving one way, his eyes are looking another way, and his beard is pointing up, somehow. There is too much to read. You have a 33 percent chance of making the correct read. That’s an F, my friend. He’s too crafty, and even the defender makes a sound judgment, it’s too late.
So James, don’t ever shave your beard. It’s a beautifully legal competitive advantage. As the saying goes, “He who rocks the outrageously unruly beard holds powers unfathomable to mere mortals.” Or something like that.