James Harden‘s performances from last week earned him the second best ranking in the NBA according to ESPN.
Each week, ESPN ranks the best players based on their performances from the previous week using game score as their starting point. They use Monday to Sunday as the criteria for a week.
There were a lot of great performances from NBA stars across the league last week, but the top honors came down to LeBron James and James Harden. LeBron and Harden both had career-defining 50-point explosions last week, but ESPN gave the edge to LeBron because Harden had seven turnovers in his big performance, whereas LeBron had just two.
LeBron’s age also factored into their decision, because we haven’t seen any player in their 15th season have such a dominating performance. The difference between LeBron’s game score in his 57-point game and the second best game score for a player in his 15th season or more is bigger than the difference between the second best and the 29th best, which is amazing.
With Harden’s performance, he scored or assisted on 91 points, which was the third most in NBA history behind Wilt’s 100-point game and Harden’s own 53 points and 17 assists game last year. Yes, it is true that Harden turned the ball over seven times in his big night, but that doesn’t mean that he was less efficient. Harden scored 56 points on 19-25 shooting from the floor, which is extremely impressive. He also made seven of his eight 3’s and he only played in 35 minutes for that game. The Rockets were also +25 while Harden was on the floor.
If you compare that to LeBron’s big game, it’s easy to see that Harden was just as good. It took LeBron 34 shots to score one extra point, and he played for almost 43 minutes that night, too. LeBron was also only a +6 on the floor, and the Cavs only won that game by eight points – a far cry from Houston’s 27-point blowout.
Also, the Rockets won three out of their four games between last Monday and Sunday, whereas the Cavs lost two out of three. Harden led his team to a better record without Chris Paul, but LeBron has another All-Star and a future Hall of Famer for a sixth man. All things considered, James Harden was the best player in the NBA from last week, not LeBron James.