James Harden is disrupting basketball. Like many of the superstars in the league he is taking the strengths of his game and achieving new levels. However, Harden is doing this in a way, and at a volume NBA fans have not seen. Harden must be in the conversation when talking about prolific scorers of this generation and of past generations. But the way he is scoring is disrupting basketball.
The Hot Streak
Let’s start by taking a look at Harden in his recent game. In his most recent game against the Knicks, Harden added to his ridiculous streak. At Madison Square Garden Harden put up 61 points total, with 36 points in the first half. Those 36 points tied for Houston’s most points in a half, which, of course, was also a record set by Harden. Those 36 points are also the most points scored at the Garden in a half in the past 20 seasons. Not only that, but his total 61 points ties Kobe Bryant for most points scored by a visiting opponent at the Garden. Now he is part of an extremely exclusive club of players with multiple 60 point games.
This game also added to Harden’s streak of games with at least 30 points. Landing him at 21 straight games.
There are two ways about the way he scores that should concern fans.
The lack of assists and reliance on getting calls.
How does he do it?
Not only is Harden’s streak incredible but the fact that he has been on this run with virtually no help is unbelievable.
As of right now, Harden has scored 263 straight unassisted points. This should not be statistically possible. The chances of getting a pass from a fast break, hustle play or designed play are all incredibly high. So the fact that he has essentially gone on this streak alone is incredible.
There is, however, some controversy surrounding this stat. Harden was seemingly assisted on a three-ball against the 76ers. The box score did not reflect that. It should have gone down as an assist, but for the sake of sticking with what the scorekeepers decided his unassisted streak will stand.
A lot of this can be attributed to the Rockets style on offense. It relies heavily on the isolation plays for Harden. But according to Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni isolation is not the only style they run, it is just what they are best at.
But it seems we have reached a point where it is becoming their only option. There are times when the Rockets look entirely incompetent.
PJ Tucker just lost his mind.pic.twitter.com/F61GLLH3Yj
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 24, 2019
With star center Clint Capela being injured this has given the green light for Harden to take over entirely.
This brings us to Harden getting to the free throw line.
Steph Curry’s career average of Free Throw attempts including this season is 269. LeBron James’ career average is 597. James Harden is at a staggering average of 620 free throw attempts throughout his career. That is an outlandish number. It also is a testament to Harden’s style of play as well as his ability to work the referees into getting favorable calls.
Is that okay?
This style of play is not necessarily bad nor is it necessarily wrong, but it should have fans questioning if that method of scoring is sustainable. Harden is not explicitly breaking any rules. He is not cheating in any way, he just happens to get to the line. A lot. It is up to the refs to make the correct calls, not for Harden to slink away and not use the opportunities given to him.
In the coming seasons, we will see if Father Time or if the referees have any say in how Harden continues his style of play.
Love him or hate him James Harden knows how to score. His method of scoring is disrupting how basketball is watched, played, and studied all across the globe.