Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have to have heard of the incredible things James Harden has been doing with a basketball.
Harden’s Historic Streak Stats (ENDED):
32 GP (38.4 mpg) – 41.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.4 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.9 bpg, 44.1% FG
It’s OVER. Harden’s insane 32-game streak of putting up 30 or more points in a single game has ended against the Atlanta Hawks, after surpassing legends such as Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor; he’s also been putting up offensive numbers we haven’t seen since Michael Jordan.
In 35:35 minutes, the prolific scorer fell two points short of maintaining his record, finishing with 28 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in the Rockets’ 119-111 win. While both Paul and Capela were healthy, Harden shot an inefficient 7-21 (33.3%) from the field, while missing ALL 10 of his three point attempts. And of course, he made 14 out of a possible 16 free throw attempts, as free throws accounted for half of Harden’s point total.
In that 32 game span, Harden has averaged an unbelievable 41.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.4 apg and 2.3 spg on 44.1% from the field. He’s willed the Rockets to a 21-11 record during that span, which is crazy to think about as the injury-riddled Rockets have been without two of their best players in Chris Paul and Clint Capela for most of this stretch.
Harden still leads the NBA in points per game, sitting at 36.3 ppg, holding a comfortable lead against both Stephen Curry and Paul George. This would mark the highest ppg average in a single-season since Michael Jordan’s historic 1986-87 season where he averaged 37.1 ppg. Harden’s scoring has been incredible throughout the majority of this run, but some critics have found a big problem with this streak.
The most notable criticism Harden has gotten are his free throw numbers. During that streak, he’s been averaging 12.8 FTA per game, while making 11.5 per game. This would mean that he only makes 0.5 more shots per game than free throws per game. In comparison, Jordan made nearly 3 more shots per game than free throws per game, during the 1986-87 season.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with taking free throws, it’s a part of the game after all. The biggest concern is how Harden gets these free throws. Harden is known as one of the biggest stars in the league, which surely help with the foul calls. Additionally, his flopping is by no means a secret, and he’s pretty good at it too. Harden’s defenders have received some questionable foul calls due to Harden’s exceptional acting skills. This is probably why he has so many haters.
During a season that has both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George having MVP-caliber seasons, Harden remains on top. He’s extremely difficult to guard as he can score from anywhere, he’s an excellent playmaker and his defense hasn’t been too bad this year either. It’s safe to say Harden has taken control of first place for the MVP award race for now, and it’s not looking like he’s about to slow down anytime soon.