James Harden Continues Stellar Play Despite Disaster Season

James Harden is very good at basketball. No, scratch that. James Harden is phenomenal at basketball. To me, this is, and always will be an obvious statement.

To others, not so much.

After playing at an MVP level last season and leading the Houston Rockets to a conference finals, you'd think he has nothing left to prove. Unless Harden's production completely fell off a cliff this year, last year should have cemented it for any naysayers.

Alas, here we are nearly a year later and it's like last year never happened.

Hell, it's like this year never happened.

As ludicrous as it may sound, James Harden is having a spectacular season this year and it's being treated as if it's 2nd rate. Don't believe me? Let's do a deep dive into the numbers.

37.8 MPG (1st)
29 PPG (2nd)
7.1 APG (7th)
6.4 RPG (3rd among guards)

The last players to put up these numbers for a season were Oscar Robertson, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan. Not bad company for an “off year”, huh?

Now of course, these are your every man's box score statistics. There’s always the caveat that these stats could be empty, or worthless. However, the advanced stats still show him adding a significant amount of value to the team.

25.41 PER (7th)
5.24 RPM (12th)
33.0 USG% (3rd)
18 Estimated Wins Added according to ESPN.com (4th)

So as you can see, on the season, James Harden is still incredibly valuable to his team, even with his effort on both sides of the basketball not being consistent. That is, until recently....

Every since the All-Star break ended, James Harden’s been playing out of his mind. His effort is at an all-season high, his defense has been more than passable, and he’s being asked to do so much for his team offensively while playing an insane amount of minutes. Here are Harden’s numbers since the All-Star break ended:

34.4 PPG
7.1 APG
6.4 APG
60.2 TS%

These numbers just seem fake. The advanced statistics make Harden look even better.

Rockets' Offensive RTG (last 10 games):

With James Harden: 109.5
Without James Harden: 83.5

Houston Rockets' defensive rating (last 10 games):

With James Harden: 100, 0
Without James Harden: 114. 8

James Harden has been flat out awesome as of late and the Rockets have gone 6-4 in this stretch of excellence. Whether or not Harden continues this is tough to tell, but the Rockets are going to need him down the stretch to continue performing at a high level if they want any chance of salvaging the rest of the season and getting out of the first round of the playoffs this year.

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