"Harden" The Paint | James Harden Chases greatness / by Hussein Abdullahi

James Harden is on pace to a career best season. His heroic performances have led the Houston Rockets back in the playoffs run; they currently sit at 4th in the Western conference. Despite the Rocket’s slow start James Harden has galvanized their ball club back into a good flow, winning 12 of their last 14 games. Over the last 11 games, Harden has scored 30 or more points and is averaging 40 points during this streak. Harden currently leads the NBA in scoring (33.6), 3-pointers made (162), and free-throws made (318). I don’t know what is more impression: recording his fifth straight 40-point game? Scoring 30 points or more in the last 11 games? Or leading a short-handed Houston team to a 4th seed in the Western conference. On Thursday the Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors after trailing by 20 points, James Harden was absolutely unstoppable recording 44 points, 10 rebound, and 15 assists. Including the game winning shot with 1-second left. James Harden’s late heroics prove why he’s a strong candidate for the MVP award. When the media asked Coach D’Antoni about the progress on his ball club and the elevation of his lead guard he clearly expressed the adjustments that were made and the stellar play of Harden. The Houston Rockets have clawed their way back into the playoff contention.

He just has a mastery of the game and a control and an ease at which he plays... Nobody does what he does on a nightly basis
— Mike D'Antoni
Photo by: NBA

Photo by: NBA

James Harden has stirred up the great debate as to why he’s deserves this years MVP award. Harden has channeled his focus on being the sole leader for the Rockets and with his elevated leadership role Harden set his expectations higher than ever. Coming off his MVP campaign last season, Harden continues to play his best brand of basketball averaging 33.6 points, 8.6 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals. He has become the front-runner of the MVP race, out-duelling Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. His premier scoring ability and sharp shooting has captured the attention of many throughout the league. Houston best weapon Harden accounts for a large percentage of their offense, his offensive versatility makes him the biggest threat on the court. Coach Mike D’Antoni praises the superior level of play by Harden in the absence of Chris Paul and Eric Gordon. Give some credit to Coach D’Antoni who is a mastermind for the idea of putting Harden at the point guard position. When reporters asked Harden about the conversation of MVP, he clearly stated that he would be receiving that award at the end of the season. A win would not only solidify Harden as the top player in the league, but he add his name to the list of greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Tim Duncan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar. The only NBA players that won back-to-back MVP awards in the last 10 years are LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

You can only name a few other people that should be in the conversation. But realistically it’s coming back
— James Harden
Photo by: New York Post

Photo by: New York Post

James Harden has solidified himself as the top offensive threat in league, surpassing Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Since the 2012 season, Harden has averaged 25 points or better finishing top 5 in scoring every year. The uniqueness of his game is highlighted off his crafty handles and stellar scoring ability. It’s hard to contain a player who can score from the perimeter and get in the lane to finish a play. Harden is most effective in isolation, where he leads the NBA in Iso points. Over the years Harden has faced a lot of scrutiny and criticism due to his post-season mishaps and defensive flaws. But, after last year’s playoff run Harden redefined himself as a world-class player in NBA. As of late Harden’s name has circulated in the conversation as the greatest scorer of all-time. Over the last 11 games Harden accumulated 400 points, which became the most by any player since Kobe Bryant’s 396 points outburst over 10 games in 2007. In 30 years the only players on that list was Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. After last night’s lost to the Trailblazer’s Harden ended his 40- point streak at 5 games. As we approach the half way point of the season Harden is leads the NBA in scoring by a margin of 5 points, which is the largest margin by any player in NBA history. Harden will arguably go down as one of the leagues greatest scorers as well as a hall of fame inductee. It’s only a matter of time to see how his career will unfold.

Photo By: Hoop Scene

Photo By: Hoop Scene

I will say this, James Harden is the greatest scorer in the game today. This brother is something special! He’s that sensational.
— Stephen A. Smith

Thanks: ESPN, NBA,Bleacher Report, Hoop Scene

Athlete: James Harden