Who is the best basketball player in the world right now?
If you ask most people, the answer you’ll get is LeBron James. Kevin Durant might get a few votes, and Chris Paul is good for an honorable mention.
One name you probably won’t here is James Harden. That is, unless you ask James Harden.
Harden sat down with ESPN’s Scoop Jackson for an interview recently, and didn’t hesitate one bit when asked who the world’s top baller is.
Scoop: Bottom line, you are on this team and a lot of players aren't, but in your mind, who is the best basketball player alive right now?
Scoop: That's what I was about to say, "including you." You made that sound like it was an easy answer.
Harden: It is. Myself.
Scoop: Then here's the question: Are you where you want to be basketball-wise, even if you are the best?
Harden: Nowhere near close. I've got a long way to go, a lot of learning to do, improvements to make. Um, you know, as long as I'm listening and focused on the right things, I can reach my potential.
Scoop: So in your mind, you haven't reached [your potential] yet?
Harden: Not even close.
Harden’s claim isn’t all that surprising, even if delusional. Self-confidence is key if you’re a professional athlete. But if you ask anyone not named James Harden who the best player in the league is, you’ll never hear his name mentioned.
Harden’s not even the top offensive player in the league. That accolade belongs to Kevin Durant. As for defense? Forget about it. Harden is one of the undisputed worst defenders in the NBA. He gets abused by whoever he guards on a nightly basis.
Want to see what I’m talking about? Watch this video.
Until Harden makes enormous strides on defense, he doesn’t even belong in this conversation.