Harden has a nice combination of present day skills to provide an immediate impact and young age to allow for growth in the future. The only thing holding him back from being an elite prospect is that he's not an elite athlete. What he does lack in athleticism he does make up with excellent measurable in terms of size, standing reach, and wingspan.
Harden plays with nice changes of speeds, using hesitation moves to
create space that he can't create with his first step and while he
tends to keep the ball in his left hand when making aggressive moves
he's not afraid to use advanced ball handling techniques to create
space for himself.
He was very solid as a spot up shooter though he didn't really have
many opportunities given that he was the dominant ball handler for his
team. He struggles to shoot off the dribble or use pull up jumpers,
but he drives to the basket relentlessly not settling for those shots
effectively creating for himself and for others.
Whether in transition or the half court, when Harden drives he's
effective at drawing fouls, dishing, and finishing. The one downside
to Harden is that he's rarely blowing past his competition, and he's
typically still shooting contested shots when making his attempts at
the basket. With more athletic defenders his task will be more
difficult in the NBA.
He has good passing instincts and court vision for a shooting guard and
doesn't have black hole potential on the next level. He's also a high
volume player, while maintaining his effectiveness as the focal point
of his teams offense which increases his odds of translating to the
next level in a reduced role even if not as a star shooting guard.
Defensively he played in a zone, which always makes it challenging to
judge his defensive instincts. He did consistently put out effort.
It appeared that most of his blowbys allowed were him merely releasing
a man to another area of the zone for someone else to pick up. He
generally seemed capable of staying in front of his man otherwise and
contested shots well.
Harden reminds me of John Salmons with a lot more passing and less
skill as a jump shooter. With his age, his jump shot certainly could
develop considerably though and likely will. He has a high floor
while still maintaining a good ceiling. Unlike Rubio (athleticism) or
Thabeet (offense) he has no glaring weaknesses in his game.