Is James Harden the Greatest Offensive Player Ever?

James Harden is averaging a career-high 33.6 points per game.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey stirred up a lot of talk and controversy recently by saying that Harden could be the best offensive player ever in the NBA. It’s stoll premature in my opinion to say this but at least he’s turned eyes away from the “GOAT” conversation for a moment. He believes Harden is at least in the conversation which is debatable. After he recent 44 point performance in the Rockets win against the Warriors, it made it 5 straight 40+ point games for Harden (most since Kobe in 2007 who had 9 straight 40+ point games). He’s also become the only NBA player in history to have 5+ 3-pointers made in 8 consecutive games. Not only that, but he’s leading the lead in scoring (33.3 PPG), 4th in assists (8.6 APG), 5th in steals (2.1 STPG). The only other player to average 30 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals was Michael Jordan in his 88-89 season. Efficiency shooting wise hasn’t been a problem with how much he’s scoring as he’s shooting 44% FG percentage and 38.9% 3PT percentage (best since his 2nd season). The only area where you could criticize Harden for is his league-high 5.6 turnovers per game, 1 more than the next person (Russell Westbrook with 4.6 TPG). Though that may be, Harden may get a pass from this since he’s not using isolation, but being the most efficient player while doing it. His career average in PPG is 23.5 which is only going to get higher if he plays near the same level through the rest of his prime. He has moves, but not an infinite set of them. But he doesn’t need that many. He already has a move that he’s honed into his own and is legendary itself whit how well he does it. It already has a place with Dirk’s fadeaway, Hakeem’s “Dream Shake”, Kareem’s sky hook, etc. He sets you up with his rhythm dribble then uses his step back so perfectly to where there’s a good chance you’ll foul him even if he doesn’t make the shot. If that wasn’t enough, he’s easily the best foul drawer in history with how much he gets to the line. He’s averaging 11 free throw attempts per game which is a career-high even for him this season. It’s not like he doesn’t make free throws either as he hits 85% of his free throws. As a scorer, he’s not just annoying, he’s truly deadly if you let him get going. With that (I’m might be crucified for saying this), I see Kobe in him as far as him using the game to his advantage and finally being killer, though many may disapprove of that. We know he isn’t just a scorer though, he’s a great passer for a shooting guard which some people don’t give him credit for and it comes from his half court game efficient isolation play and “pick n’ roll”. It’s crazy to think that a rookie in Luka Doncic has more votes than the best shooting guard in the NBA (yeah, better than Oladipo, “Jimmy Buckets”, and Klay”), but it’s not surprising when you consider people just don’t like him. It’s not even his fault really, he uses his elite skills and I.Q. to take advantage of the game and put it in his own control which is amazing. People don’t like that he draws fouls at the rate he does and neither did I honestly at first, but he’s just playing his game as best as he can and he does it better than most. Either way, you may not like him or his game in terms of him drawing fouls and accusing refs of helping him, but he’s one of the best offensive players the game has ever seen. His prowess is under appreciated, and it is not to be taken for granted as he’s on a path to be one of the GOAT’s in NBA history. As far as greatest offensive scorer the game has ever seen……that’s very premature to say and honestly disrespectful to the players before him that have played the game. He’s only 29 and to call him an all-time better offensive than certain players before him like Kobe, MJ, Magic, Kareem, Dirk, even Stephen Curry is debatable with his impact, but Harden is definitely putting his name in the conversation. If he continues at the rate he’s on, you could make a great argument for him in the future.


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