With another 42 brilliant points in Wednesday’s loss to the Timberwolves, James Harden now has scored at least 30 points in his last 31 games.
Will it ever end? With the way Harden has been playing this season, it really feels like he’s going to pop off for 30+ every single night. His signature stepback three is downright unguardable, and there truly is not a single player more adept at drawing fouls than him today. Don’t forget his exquisite basketball IQ and vision, which turns him into a lethal, pick-your-poison problem for defenses everywhere.
Clint Capela went down with a thumb injury early on, and Chris Paul was hampered with yet another hamstring injury, leaving Harden to shoulder most of the offensive burden. James has been more than capable of handling the load, exploding for 1286 points over the last 31 games. That’s good for more than 41 points a game, such an impressive figure for the bearded assassin.
Harden’s excellence has now put him in a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for achieving that same feat. Yeah, that Wilt Chamberlain – the one with the countless number of inhuman records, almost a myth among modern NBA fans. For James to hold a (second place) record with Wilt for something is truly a sign of greatness.
Harden won his first MVP last season, although it definitely could’ve been his second or third. No offense to Westbrook at all – he absolutely deserved his. Harden looks hungry for more, and truly has a desire to be incredible.
Some players wish to be great, others have the talent but don’t work hard enough. With James you have a gifted player with the raw skill and superb work ethic that simply makes him better. We can talk about potential and could-haves all day, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is execution and results, and Harden is producing.
Last season we could definitely have seen the Rockets in the Finals had Chris Paul not gotten injured in the Conference Finals against the Warriors. Since then, the Warriors have added Demarcus Cousins, and now sport a five all-star lineup that is undoubtedly the title favorite by far. With the way James has been playing this season, if any single player has a chance to take down the Warriors, it’s got to be him.
He’s on pace to average more than 35 points this season, and is easily in the top 3 for the MVP race. The Rockets have also landed an excellent pickup in Kenneth Faried, who may come up big the team come playoff time. By then, Capela and Paul should both be healthy and ready for a strong playoff push. Harden is having a fantastic season, but he’ll need some help to beat a historically stacked Golden State team.