James Harden is averaging almost 40 points per game, but fans seem to think he is not an elite scorer. Many fans dislike Harden’s game, and it may be boring, but if he can continue what he is doing right now, becoming a top 5 scorer of all-time seems reasonable.
I mean 60 against the Hawks in 3 quarters is a feat for certain, but 50 against the Spurs on 11 made shots? That’s incredible and takes talent to get to the line 24 times. But fans didn’t like his performance Tuesday night in San Antonio, and there are arguments fans make against Harden, but I’m here to debunk them and prove he truly is an elite scorer.
“He is a ball hog and takes too many shots”
To start off this argument against this, I want to say that Doncic and Harden’s styles of play are eerily similar. The step-backs, the offense running through them, the isolation-heavy offense, and the amount of 3 pointers taken are all closer between the two than what may seem. But fans love Doncic and hate on Harden, why? Doncic is averaging 11 more touches per game than Harden, and is averaging almost 10 points less than him. What Harden does is efficient, believe it or not. I do not care what the percentages say. I know he is only shooting 34% from 3, but no one thinks of Harden as a 34% 3 point shooter, lets be truthful here.
The amount of shots Harden takes is preposterous, I will say it. The Beard is taking almost 25 shots a game, on pace to be one of the highest amounts of field goal attempts taken per game of all time. But I have to ask, who in Houston would you rather take the shots? Ben McLemore? The Rockets are 13-7 and that is due to the offensive load that Harden has carried, like it or not.
“The amount of free throws taken make for a boring play style”
Fouls are part of the game. But for Harden, they are a bigger part of his game. Obviously getting to the line isn’t sexy by any means, and the fan was correct. Nobody wants to watch a free throw contest. However, getting to the line is part of what makes James Harden the elite scorer he is. If NBA players could get to the line as much as Harden does, don’t you think they would? I mean it’s meant to be the easiest shot in basketball, the word ‘free’ is in the term. So I beg all you fans of the game, stop slandering Harden for his ability to get to the line, it’s a difficult part of the game that Harden has specialized.
“KD > Harden” or “Harden isn’t a top scorer of all time”
KD is more physically gifted than Harden, imagine Harden in Durant’s body? Good, glad we’re all on the same page, Beard over KD. But I think in the future, we will see Harden as at least a Top 10 scorer of all time, maybe Top 5. Obviously names like Bryant, Jordan, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, all of those players come to mind when talking best scorers of all time. But there is a new face coming into that discussion. One with a beard, and he is coming fast. He is almost averaging 40 so far this year, and I will not be on the record to say he can’t get even better. He has consistently improved his points per game since coming into the league, and has made himself into a Mega-Star with the likes of LeBron and Giannis.
Zach Lowe of ESPN compared him to a “Guard Karl Malone” and it is a valid comparison. Malone dominated on the Jazz, proved to be the best at his position and won an MVP as well. However he never won any rings, always came up short to what was a dynasty in the 90’s Bulls. Now look at Harden, MVP, undoubtedly the best at his position, and has lost to a dynasty in the Warriors twice now.
Recognize his Greatness
So fans, I beg of you, lay off of the Harden slander. He could very well be a top 5 isolation scorer of all time. Sure his play style is boring and he hasn’t won yet. But The Beard is an elite scorer, and could make his way into the top 5 scorers of all time if he can continue his dominate play. So once again, fans, get on the right side of history, deal with Harden’s style of play, and recognize greatness.
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