Baron Davis explained how Houston Rockets superstar James Harden would have fared in the previous eras of the NBA.
Houston Rockets superstar James Harden has unequivocally entrenched himself as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. Harden has shown the ability to pull off feats that simply can’t be duplicated, regardless of who he’s being compared to.
Earlier this season Harden scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks, which is impressive in itself. But there’s more to Harden’s performance, as he posted a true shooting percentage of 87.9 percent, and only needed 24 shots to get to 60 points.
Another caveat is that Harden didn’t play a second of the fourth quarter, which makes one wonder how many more points he would’ve added in the final period. But there are other examples of Harden’s dominance, such as the three consecutive scoring titles and the yearly MVP consideration.
In spite of Harden’s scoring barrage, he’s consistently been one of the league’s most efficient players, as his true shooting splits have often resembled that of a traditional big man that takes high-percentage shots around the rim. There have been those who have chalked Harden’s historic scoring to the rules and playing style of the current era, stating that Harden wouldn’t be able to thrive in the older eras, which are regarded as the tougher eras of the league.
Baron Davis explains how Rockets’ James Harden would fare in earlier eras
But 13-year NBA veteran Baron Davis explained how Harden’s game would have adapted in the league’s earlier eras, during an episode of the Knuckleheads podcast.
“I don’t think anybody can guard him. I think he could play in any era, I think he could score in any era. I remember when he was in high school and I was playing pick-up. This dude was locking me up, I’m not bull****ing. Dude was playing great defense.
I couldn’t make a shot. I was like this kid is gonna be special, because he was smart. He was kind of like the glue guy for OKC, and they couldn’t replace the fact that the dude was a good basketball player. And he kinda played defense there.”
It was quite refreshing to hear yet another explanation of how Harden has always been a great defender, as Davis stated that Harden’s stellar defense has been on display since his high school days. Davis also explained how Harden was a defender in his early years with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden has quietly become one of the better defenders in the league, and especially in the post, where he’s allowed a stingy 0.65 points per post-up this season. Harden also has a defensive field goal percentage of 44.6 percent, which ranks first on the Houston Rockets among players who have appeared in at least 60 games, and is better than he’s fared in each of the last four seasons.
The other part of Davis’ quote was also correct, as Harden would dominate in any era. For one, he still would’ve been able to still get to the free throw line, as superstars were able to get superstar calls in the 1980s and 1990s.
But the other thing to consider is that Harden has the ability to make the mid-range shot, which has seemingly been forgotten by those who are raising the question. This part of Harden’s game would’ve arguably been most beneficial in the earlier eras, as the three wasn’t nearly as common as it is today, because the mid-range shot was the more widely accepted shot.
Buy and large, Davis is right; James Harden would thrive in any era.