Point-Counterpoint: After a solid season and a trip to the second-round of the NCAA tournament, is there anything left for James Harden at Arizona State?
Harden, ASU could both gain from 1 more year
James Harden's "game" still needs some work to reach the NBA level.
He needs to be more assertive (as we saw in the NCAA tournament and Pac-10 championship game); he could stand to get a little stronger; he can struggle against really good defenders (which there will be plenty of in the NBA); and he needs to work on his quickness and foot speed (his deceptive motion may not fly in the big leagues).
But that's not the "game" I'm talking about. Those are nit-picky things that won't keep him from being a top-five pick in the draft.
The part of Harden's game that is not yet NBA-worthy is his attitude. He's just not selfish enough; there are no tattoos smothering his body, he doesn't have a big enough ego, he doesn't have a catchy nickname and there's not enough chest-thumping going on. How can he survive in the NBA like that?
Sarcasm aside, I'd just really love to see what ASU could do with another year with Harden at the helm. There are worse things than being the big man on campus.
Harden's decision should be easy: Go pro
I know my boss is being a bit facetious, but there are some reasonably sane people who think Arizona State's James Harden should return for his junior season rather than turn pro.
Let's see. Harden likely will be a top-five draft pick. He'll receive a guaranteed contract that will make him financially secure for years. And because this is considered one of the weakest drafts in years, he could only hurt his draft status by playing another year at ASU.
Harden isn't a complete player. He needs to work on his mid-range game, improve his quickness and strength and become more assertive. But he can do all that in the NBA and still make millions.
Consider, too, the risk Harden would take by returning to school. What if he blows out his knee? Or breaks his leg?
No, the time is right. Harden has to go pro.