Despite his team’s record, Harden proved he still belonged with the big names of the NBA.
After a season in which Harden believed he deserved the MVP award (eventually won by Steph Curry), he had a chance to back up his talk. Even though the Harden-led Rockets barely squeaked into the playoffs, Harden still had a successful season. He set career-highs in points, assists, and rebounds during a season in which he was the second highest scorer in the league.
There’s no denying what Harden can do, as he is one of the NBA’s best playmakers. In terms of his position, Harden is the best. Last season, Harden was the most efficient shooting guard with a difference efficiency of 27.6 (hoopsstats.com). The next best was 21.7 (Jimmy Butler) and after that, 18.7 (Demar Derozan). That gap was the most between any player at the top of his position and the second.
Harden will be looking to improve his team this season following a disappointing first round exit from last year’s playoffs. While it can be difficult to bring a former 8-seed back to contenders, if a guy can do it, it’s Harden.
Next: Number Five