Photo: Fox Sports screenshot
There was a lot riding on James Harden when he made the move to Houston.The fourth-year shooting guard received a hefty five-year, $80 million contract despite spending his career coming off the bench and playing alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Naturally, there was some scepticism as Harden became the Rockets new head honcho. But he’s silenced many of those doubters with his play this season, proving that he can be a superstar in the NBA.
Royce White is currently stealing the spotlight in Houston, but people should be paying attention to Harden. He’s earning his money and even some MVP consideration. Here’s why:
• He’s averaging 26.4 points per game, which is the fifth-best in the NBA. He’s also incredibly consistent, scoring more than 20 points in 28-of-33 (84.8 per cent) games and more than 25 in 12 straight games.
• Harden has turned the Rockets into the most explosive offensive team in the NBA with a league-leading 106.2 points per game.
• He is getting to the free throw line more than any player in the NBA, averaging 10.3 trips per game and sinking 85.9 per cent of his attempts.
• He’s contributed 5.6 wins to the Rockets this season, based on win shares. Houston is 8-2 in their last 10 games and currently sixth in the Western Conference.
The most remarkable thing about all of Harden’s stats is how quick he was to ascend the ranks in his first season as starter. Not only that, but how he’s doing it as the number one option teams are keying in defensively night in and night out.
If the Rockets can sustain the success they’re having and the Harden-Jeremy Lin backcourt continues to grow and flourish, Harden will continue to be in the conversation for MVP by year’s end.
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