Houston Rockets: Ranking the top 10 players in team history
2. James Harden
James Harden has been transcendent for the NBA, as he’s forced the league to re-define its rules, due to his craftiness and ability to initiate contact and bait defenders and officials. On top of that, his patented step-back has forced the league to modify their rules on what’s considered a travel. In addition, last season Harden held his “unguardable tour” in which he scored 30 or more points in 32 consecutive games, which is second-most in league history.
The Rockets have not had a single year in which they didn’t make the playoffs while Harden has been on the roster, which puts him in rare territory for this list, not to mention the fact that he’s made the All-Star team in each of the seven years he’s been in Houston. The Rockets were gifted Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, as they were in contract negotiations and had decided it was more important to keep then forward Serge Ibaka.
Although Harden nabbed the MVP award during the 2017-2018 season, he probably should have more. Harden is arguably the greatest scorer in league history and has led the league in points per game in each of the last two seasons. In addition, he’s finished inside the top two in total points scored in each of the last five years. During that span, he’s actually led the league in total points in three of those years. On top of that, Harden has actually increased his year over year points per game in each of the last five seasons, which is rarely mentioned.
Harden’s ability to score at will has actually made people forget about his ability to pass, as he’s drawn the label of a ball hog, but Harden has finished inside the top five in total assists in each of the last three years. Harden also finished inside the top three in assists per game in two of the last three years in the league. In addition, Harden has had at least seven assists per game in each of the last five years, which SHOULD put the ball hog talk to waste.
During the 2018-2019 campaign, Harden finished with 36.1 points per game, which is the sixth-highest in league history. It’s also the most since the 1986-1987 season in which Michael Jordan finished with 37.1 points per game. The miraculous thing about this stat is that Jordan had 370 more field goal attempts, as he had 2279 field goal attempts during that season compared to Harden’s 1909 field goal attempts this past season.
Harden already ranks first in team history in three-pointers made and is second in free throws made also. In addition, he has the third most steals in team history and ranks second in franchise history in total assists. He also ranks first in team history in player efficiency rating and in usage percentage. Harden currently ranks third in Rockets history in points scored and first in points per game. He also ranks second in club history in assists per game as well.
When it’s all said and done, Harden will have re-written the entire Rockets record books, as he’s essentially already left his mark after only seven years with the team.
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