Houston Rockets 75th Anniversary Team Rank 2
James Harden’s exit from Houston is still a fresh wound, but that shouldn’t undermine the absolute brilliance he exhibited over eight seasons. He was a supernova scorer that never missed games and logged massive minutes totals. He was the epitome of a franchise player and his presence alone made the Rockets a contender.
He averaged 29.6 points, 7.7 assists, and 6 rebounds per game and led the NBA in win shares five times and value over a replacement player three times. His statistical output speaks to his greatness, but his accolades show just how truly dominant he was. He secured three scoring titles, an assist title, made eight All-Star teams, landed on seven All-NBA teams, including six first-team All-NBA selections, and won an MVP award.
In 2018-19, he became the third person in NBA history to average over 36 points per game, joining Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. From a statistical standpoint, James Harden’s Rockets tenure is the best in franchise history. However, what edges him down to number two, is his lack of a championship.
James Harden was a winner in Houston. He led the team to a franchise-best 65 wins in 2017-18 and was the biggest, non-LeBron James, threat to the Golden State Warriors dynasty. If it wasn’t for the Warriors, Harden and the Rockets would have likely won one championship and possibly two. Hakeem capitalized on Michael Jordan’s first retirement to nab back-to-back titles, but, unfortunately, Steph Curry didn’t decide to pause his NBA career to pursue a career in golf.
There’s not much more that can be said of James Harden. He was simply unstoppable while in Houston but consistently ran into an unmoveable force in the playoffs. In time, the sting of his departure will fade and he’ll rightly be lauded as the second greatest Rocket if he isn’t already.