My first ever article for PerSources Sports back in March of 2015 was about James Harden. My point back then about the then shooting-guard being an MVP candidate was that I believed he needed to give more value to a team than being just another great scorer. This year, Harden has clearly proved me wrong, and I’m loving it.
Two moves made all the difference for Harden. One was getting his ideal coach in Mike D’Antoni, and the other was moving from shooting guard to point guard. The move to PG was exactly what the Rockets needed as well. Harden has emerged as a premier play-maker in the NBA. He leads the league in assists and has carried the Rockets to the third-seed in a stacked western conference.
I compared Harden to certain players in the article such as Baron Davis or Tracy McGrady and spoke about being a scorer who never evolves and wins. I no longer feel that way about Harden after this season, and I am confident that Harden is good enough to be the best player on a championship team. It most-likely will not be with this Rockets squad, and it will be tough to get through the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavs in the coming years. There has to be a shakeup of players and teams, but if Harden gets a couple all-stars around him, his assists will only go up. If you surround him with defenders, he can hide on defense. Who knows what the future will hold.
He seems to be the front-runner for the MVP, because of where he has his team in the standings along with how he is playing (even though if I had a vote, I would vote Westbrook, because if you average a triple-double you should win MVP). It will be interesting to see how the voters think when the moment comes. Harden can make Westbrook be the second player in NBA history to average a trip-dub in a season and not win the MVP award along with the last player to do it, Oscar Robertson.
People who know me know that I rarely think I am wrong, but I am glad to say: I was wrong about James Harden. He has elevated his play and his team to heights many other than myself did not think he could take it. I cannot wait to see what the future will hold, but the NBA should 100% ‘fear the beard”.