Why Payton is right
Harden certainly has to be considered as a possibility of surpassing Kareem on the all-time scoring list, as he’s a walking bucket. This season is a good example, as Harden has led the league in scoring with 34.4 points per game, despite many believing he’s had a down year.
Prior to this season, Harden has had yearly increases in scoring for five consecutive seasons. He’s also averaged 30 points per game in each of the last three years, including this year, and his shooting efficiency has been above 60 percent in eight of the last nine years.
Payton referenced Harden’s ability to get to the line, which also is a major component of his ability to score at will. Harden has averaged double-digit free throw attempts in seven of his eight seasons with the Houston Rockets, including a career-high 11.8 attempts per game this season.
It’s not hard to envision The Beard continuing his stellar scoring for five or six more years, because his game isn’t dependent on sheer athleticism. Harden doesn’t exactly rely on speed and playing above the rim, as he instead relies on the outside shot.
To that point, at least 50 percent of Harden’s field goal attempts have come from long-range in each of the last four seasons. In fact, this season Harden has attempted 22.7 shots per game and 12.6 of them have been 3-pointers. And if we’re being honest, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him become more dependent on the outside shot as he becomes older. In fact, prior to this season Harden has increased his 3-point attempts year-over-year in every season.
All in all, this is a huge compliment coming from The Glove, who is defensive-minded and who isn’t exactly known to praise players. But even he realizes the unprecedented scoring ability from the Houston Rockets star.