Last year, Mike D’Antoni said that James Harden is the best offensive player ever, and the Rockets head coach hasn’t changed his opinion a year later.
Naturally, his comments quickly drew a lot of criticism. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain put up dazzling scoring numbers and hold all kinds of offensive records, putting Harden up against very formidable competition.
However, a year later, D’Antoni hasn’t backed off his claims. Houston’s head coach told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen that if anything, Harden has gotten even better than he was last season.
“I haven’t changed my mind. Still the same, maybe better. His stepback’s better. He just went on a two-month tear (averaging more than 40 points per game.) It’s incredible what he’s doing. He’s scored 30 points against every team in the NBA. Probably should look at it real close. He might have got it against most teams twice. He’s incredible.”
Indeed, Harden scored 31 points in a Rockets win against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, making him the first player in decades to score at least 30 points against every other team in the NBA in a single season. Michael Jordan also accomplished this impressive scoring feat in his prime, but he did it when the league had fewer teams.
James Harden is also leading the NBA in scoring at 36.1 points per game. If he is able to continue to score at this pace, Harden will become the first NBA player to average more than 35 points per game since Kobe Bryant did it in the 2005-06 season.
Furthermore, The Beard is also leading the NBA in 3-pointers made, free throws made, box plus/minus and value over replacement player. Not to mention, Harden is also second in the league in steals per game. Not bad for someone who “doesn’t play defense.”
NBA analysts can argue until the sun comes up about who the best offensive player to ever step on the court is. But in today’s game, it is clear that James Harden has no equal.