James Harden was the third overall pick by Oklahoma City in the 2009 NBA Draft. In his third and final season with the Thunder in 2011-12, he helped OKC reach the Finals and was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year. The Rockets acquired Harden via trade on 10/27/12 and he has since made eight straight All-Star appearances while leading Houston to the playoffs each year, including the Conference Finals twice. Harden was named MVP in 2017-18 and finished top-three in voting in each of the past four seasons. He has earned All-NBA First Team six times and Third Team once. Harden averaged at least 34.0 points, 7.0 assists, and 6.0 rebounds in each of the past two seasons; no other player has done so once in NBA history. Entering 2020-21, he averaged 25.2 points, 6.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 833 career games with 620 starts.
Harden was an early entry candidate for the 2009 NBA Draft following his sophomore season at Arizona State. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.9 steals and was named first team All-Pac-10 in both of his seasons. Harden earned consensus first team All-American honors in his final season.