If Not The MVP, What Is James Harden?
Candace Parker, I feel you. You confidently sat on TNT’s Players Only Post Game Show beside Shaquille O’neal, Chris Webber and Baron Davis, three very accomplished NBA veterans with deep knowledge of the game of basket ball, and strongly defended James Harden as the MVP. Candace, I am with you.
Last night thanks to Harden’s 58 points, 10 assist and 7 rebounds, the Houston Rockets spoiled Dwayne Wade’s last dance in H-Town. Chris Paul warned Wade not to bring his heroics from the Miami Heat’s 126-125 win over the full strength two time NBA Champs to the Toyota Center and he didn’t listen.
Wade almost had this one as the Rockets had to overcome a 21-point deficit to barley get by the Heat 121-118. On Harden’s route to 58, he went 16 of 32 including 8 of 18 on threes and a perfect 18 of 18 on free-throws. His clutch gene factored in as well. Down the stretch when Houston trailed 113-103 with 6:18 left, Harden scored 10 points on a 14-0 run that made it 117-113.
Not only did Harden completely stop the little momentum Miami had, but he scored the most points any player has ever recorded against the Heat in the regular season or playoffs. This game validated Harden’s MVP case.
Statically, James Harden is accomplishing things only Wilt Chamberlin, the greatest statical NBA player ever, has acomplished. The only person to score 30 or more points in 32 consecutive games was Wilt and he went 65 straight games. That record, along with his 100 point game, will never be broken.
What makes Harden’s streak so impressive is that, he did it when the team absolutely needed it. When the streak began, the Rockets were in 14th place, not the 10th place as Candace said on TNT. During the 32 game 30-point plus stretch, the reigning MVP averaged 41.1 points per game and it seemed as the Rockets needed every one them.
The slight win over Miami gave proof. Last time these two teams faced each other was during the streak and they played in Miami. Harden finished with 35 points and had 12 assists that game, and guess what, the Rockets lost 101-99. So what does that tell you? They needed more from the MVP.
Not only that but for majority of this run, the Rockets, as a team, barely played at full strength. Chris Paul only played in just 38 out of 61 games. We all know his significance from his game seven absence last year in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Clint Cappella missed 15 games and Eric Gordon stayed in and out of the lineup. Harden literally had to carry this team on his beard. The Rockets had no secret to their game plan, iso ball with Harden, or pick and roll with Kenneth Farid, who has had a resurgence in his career. Teams new exactly what to expect from the James Harden and the Rockets and they couldn’t spot it. If they did, they didn’t stop it enough because now the Rockets are currently fifth in the West.
Also what makes Harden if not the MVP, the best scoring guard ever, is that as he continued to score, the Rockets improved as a team. Never in NBA history has there ever been a more unselfish scoring assassin like James Harden. During his historical run, the man had a 50-point triple double. Not only that, but he became the NBA’s all-time leader in regular season 50-point triple-doubles.
Austin Rivers is on record saying this is the happiest he’s been in his career. Kenneth Farid got a call from his couch, now he’s averaging 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in just 29.3 minutes. He has shot 60% from the floor and made the most threes than he has ever made in his entire career.
So right now in James Harden, you have an unselfish scorer who wins games. They say he doesn’t play defense, but is currently second in steals behind Paul George. He’s the only all-star on his team, all of the other MVP candidates play with at least one other all-star and still Harden has the Rockets in the championship hunt. So you tell me. What is James Harden?