Another Historical Season for James Harden
An In-depth look on James Harden’s historical, potentially-MVP season
After the all-star break, the Houston Rockets hold a 44-13 record, giving them top record in the Western Conference and the league overall (0.5 games ahead of Golden State). Offseason arrivals of Chris Paul, Luc Mbah a Moute, and PJ Tucker along with the midseason signing of wing Gerald Green have blasted the Rockets out to their best start in franchise history. However, don’t let that overshadow the historical season James Harden is having.
Harden is regarded as the current MVP favorite over LeBron James, Giannis Antetoukounmpo…and for good reason. The 28-year-old is averaging a career-high 31.3 points per game and 9.0 assists (first and second in the NBA, respectively) along with 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic would be his 30.6 Player Efficiency Rating (PER); his 35.9 usage makes his PER that much more underrated. James Harden leads the league in both of those categories along with total points scored (1565), most points in a game (60), and most three-pointers made (206). James is currently leading the NBA in 6 major individual categories all while averaging the least number of minutes per game in his career as a Rocket thus far (35.8).
Harden’s .448 shooting percentage is normal for him, but the three-point percentage is worth noting. His .384 true three-point shooting percentage is the second-highest of his career in which he shot .390 from behind the arc in his last season with the Thunder but is taking 6 more attempts per game in this current season. He currently holds the record for most points scored in a triple-double effort with a heroic effort in a win over the Orlando Magic back on January 30th; he had 60 points to go along with 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
His impact goes well beyond statistics, however. The connection with Chris Paul and the assistance in the growth of center Clint Capela has been quite overlooked. There were many doubts coming into the season that the two ball dominant guards wouldn’t be able to co-exist, but ironically the results have shown the opposite. The pick-and-roll aspect of the Rockets’ game has turned Clint Capela into one of the most promising young centers the league has to offer. Houston has only lost one game (28-1) when Harden, Paul, and Capela all play. His impact, efficiency, scoring, and facilitating has allowed Harden to have a historical season, and with 25 games to go, has put him in a prime position to be recognized as the league’s most valuable player.