A perennial MVP candidate, Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden’s value and overall performance is not as impressive as you’d believe.
James Harden is known for one thing, scoring. And by just watching him play, it seems like James Harden is one of the best scorers in the league today, possibly one of the best ever. But basketball is much deeper than that, and looking at stats paints a much different picture.
While yes, James Harden is averaging 34.4 PPG this season, which is mostly due to his ball hogging (which is partly a result of the Rockets’ offensive scheme). He takes an incredible number of shots, at just under 23 a night, and has a usage rate of 36.4%.
His shooting percentages are quite poor as well, at only 43.5 FG% and 35.2 3PT%. Especially looking at the number of threes taken, it shows that Harden takes way too many shots, at a whopping 13 threes/game, or 55.5% of his shots this season.
Harden only ranks 66th in the NBA for offensive rating, behind many players that are not volume scorers. The only thing about Harden’s offensive game that amazes me is his incredible ability to draw fouls. He is by far the best in the league at drawing fouls, even though he does flop quite a bit.
Defensively, James Harden gets even worse. Over the past three years, Harden’s defensive rating has progressively gotten worse over the past three years, despite having two good defensive guards with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.
All that Harden contributes on the defensive side of the ball is stepping in the passing lanes for steals, where sometimes he gambles too much and misses, leading to a drive or an open shot. His defense is set to get worse as he ages, and he’s set to be 31 by the start of next season.
While yes, James Harden is still a very, very great player in the league, his status as a perennial MVP candidate is not deserved.
Image: USA Today