James Harden: ‘If I was right-handed, I wouldn’t be where I am today’
Houston Rockets guard James Harden has proved to be a rather unique player with his uncanny ability to drive fouls on drives to the basket, a signature tippy-toe step-back move, and most importantly a left-handed stroke that catapulted him to become a league MVP.
“We’re weird,” Harden said when asked about his left-handedness at the recent Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. “I embrace it — we’re different, and it’s hard to guard us.”
Look through a team’s roster and most would be hard-pressed to find more than one left-handed player, as it’s estimated that there’s only 10-to-12 percent of people in the world with that dexterity.
According to Basketball-Reference, there were 45 players identified as left-handed shooters — given that there is 450 total players (15-player rosters times 30 NBA teams), it falls right at the lower end of the spectrum at 10 percent.
It was the fourth consecutive season and the 15th overall that sported 40 or more lefties in the league, according to Stein. Only Harden and Eastern Conference replacement Goran Dragic made the All-Star Game.
“If I was right-handed, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Harden.
While left-handed jump shots are easier to close out on for a right-handed defender, as the shooting hand falls right in front of them — there is a certain trickyness to a left-handed play style, as lefties have grown up their entire life playing against right-handed players, developing a bag of tricks to showcase.
In Harden’s case, his physicality, shiftiness and unpredictability make him a tough guard as it is. Add a left-handed ability to pull up and bury shots from distance, and Houston, we’ve got a problem.