As of February 23, James Harden’s streak of consecutive 30 point games has reached 32 with no end in sight. While his stats of 36.5 points per game on a 44.2 field goal percentage, 6.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game would go down as one of the greatest seasons in history, his usage percentage this season is the second highest of all time and the Houston Rockets are only the 5 seed in the Western Conference. So, are Harden’s stats truly indicative of an all-time great season, or is it just Harden padding his stats in the absence of Chris Paul?
First, let’s look at his usage rating. Harden’s usage rating is 40.3. The only player in history to have a higher usage rating was Russell Westbrook from 2016-2017 when he won the MVP award. Going down the list, at #3 is Kobe Bryant from 2005-2006 when he averaged an astounding 35.4 points per game. Finally, at #5 is Michael Jordan from 1986-1987 when he averaged his career high of 37.1 points per game. Essentially, to score a lot of points, you’re going to need the ball in your hands a lot. Even Michael Jordan needed the ball a lot to score his legendary 37.1 points per game in the 1986-1987 season. So, we can excuse Harden for his high usage rating.
The other important factor is team success. Currently, his team is mediocre so far. The Houston Rockets are 5th in the Western Conference and have underperformed from high expectations before the season started. Harden has claimed that his high stats are to keep the boat afloat and to help his team win, yet his team has not had total success.
While this is just a brief look at James Harden’s absurd season so far, we can conclude that while his stats may be a little misleading as they are not leading to team success, we should appreciate his scoring streak since this is a season for the ages.