It’s no secret that James Harden is good at basketball. When you take a closer look, though, he’s even better than he seems.
In his first season at point guard, James Harden may already be the best at the position. Mike D’Antoni is famous for unleashing players’ full potential, and so far his work with the Beard is some of his best. Harden’s style of play has always been ball-dominant, so it only made sense for him to be made the official floor general of the Houston Rockets.
At first glance, it’s clear that Houston’s offense runs through the Beard. Even on plays where he doesn’t accrue any points or assists, he’s still involved to some extent. His mere presence on the court frees up space for his teammates to work. If defenses don’t double-team him, he’ll almost assuredly get an easy basket.
As the league’s leader in assists, most would guess that James Harden sees the court well. However, when plays are broken down into segments, explained, and played back in slo-mo, it’s clear that his court vision is rivaled by few (only watch first 1:30 of video):
For the first time in his career, the Beard has the perfect supporting cast around him. Daryl Morey‘s decision to abandon any defensive focus and sign sharpshooters Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson ended up being one of the best moves of the entire offseason. With six or so players on the Rockets shooting near 40% from beyond the arc, Harden has room to operate like never before:
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) December 2, 2016
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Considering his team’s uber-efficient offense and his video game-like numbers, it’s proper to consider James Harden as one of the best point guards in the league. The league is chock full of talented playmakers, but nobody is playing on Harden’s level while winning like he is.
After setting personal bests in most offensive categories last season, it was hard to imagine Harden reaching another level. This year, though, not only is he setting more personal bests, but his team is on pace to have their best season since last millennium.
Last night, Harden and the Rockets were both at their full potential. In a game that pushed their win streak to eight, the Beard tallied a triple-double with 15 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. D’Antoni’s offense is reliant on the long ball, and his team shot a blistering 58.8% on those shots.
Granted, last night’s contest was against the majorly depleted Sacramento Kings. Still, though, it was a perfect game to use in a Harden-is-the-best argument.
After a night of rest tonight, The Rockets take on the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow. Clint Capela will be tested defensively by Anthony Davis, but James Harden should have no reason not to once again prove that he’s tops in the league.