We have many ways to practice alone - Around the World, Mikan Drill, Rick Pitino's Quarters, 251, Beat the Pro (a.k.a. Bill Bradley), Celtics 32, Eldon Campbell, Flips, Bradleys, 90 seconds (total score of 3s, midrange, and layups in 90 seconds), and more.
But basketball's binary unit is one-on-one. And James Harden or not, I'm not talking about 24 seconds of dribbling into a shot. Work on your one-on-one game from the spacing line (3 point line), midrange, and the post. One-on-one teaches defense, too.
Operate best within your "circle of competence," what you do well.
From Farnam Street. Circle of Competence - know it and grow it.
Add constraints. "Good players need two dribbles, excellent players need one, and elite players don't have to dribble." Add constraints like playing off two dribbles or one dribble and playing off the stationary catch, off the moving catch, and attacking closeouts.
Shamrock Shake. Frank Shamrock was an MMA fighter who believed in better, same, worse. Practice against someone better, compete against someone similar, and teach someone weaker. Many strong players grew up playing against older, better competition.
Go To and Counter. If you can't explain and execute your 1) "Go To" and 2) "Counter" moves, they don't exist.
Four Ways to Score. You want to become a scorer? Develop four ways to score. You can score at the three levels - inside, midrange, and perimeter. You can score off the catch or off the dribble. Putbacks and free throws are great; a putback with a free throw is even better, three points and a foul on your opponent.
Read the defender. Are they off or tight? Are they showing you a front hand or foot to attack? Do they have the athleticism and/or size to guard you?
First step quickness. Especially in girls' basketball, first step quickness wins. Expose the defender by beating them sequentially with the shoulder, hip, and ball. Play in an athletic, low position. "Low person wins." But separation isn't enough; you have to finish (score).
You're on the Island. In one-on-one, you can't call for a lifeline or audience help. It's all you. Bill Parcells advises, "confidence comes from proven success."
"Draw 2." Elite players "draw two," forcing another defender to help. Elite players find a way to finish or dish to the helper's assignment.
Commitment. Be an exercise in professionalism every session. You're investing valuable effort and time.
Quality beats quantity. Leverage your strengths (Don Kelbick) and minimize your weaknesses. Make moves your own, your signature skills.
Rule of 2s. It takes two minutes to learn a move, two weeks to develop, and two months to use it productively in games. As Gregg Popovich says, "pound the rock." Frustration and skipping steps fail.
Practical magic. Mix it up. Develop the jab, rocker, rip, combination moves, shot fake.
What's your (NBA) skill? In baseball, they say what's your OUT pitch. Teams will adjust to you and you must adjust to their defense.
How good are our one-on-one skills...never good enough...
Lagniappe: One-on-one from half-court with 4 dribble limit.