The case for James Harden’s season as best ever on offense
No player in NBA history has scored as much on as few shots, playing time and still making assists
The buzz that would soon fill Toyota Center began as James Harden made his walk to the scorers’ table, waiting for a chance to return to the floor and chase the 10 points he still needed to keep his streak of 30-point games alive. History was on the line again and there was a sense that, as with the 61 points scored in Madison Square Garden or the 50-point triple doubles, something special was about to happen.
When that final 3-pointer fell, the streak rolled on, the crowd that had been holding its breath exhaled with a roar, and a season unlike any other had another night to celebrate. But Harden’s offensive exploits have been about more than the streak, with accomplishments more meaningful, more revealing about a place in NBA history that goes beyond a category in the record books.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni had declared last season that Harden had become the best offensive player he had ever seen, a statement that listed Harden in front of nearly all of the greats and filled a few days of cable television debate and Twitter derision before quickly dismissed. The hyperbole, as it was considered, was viewed as mostly a mix of biases from time and proximity that somehow led the Rockets coach to get ahead of himself and logic.
A season later, D’Antoni could have been prescient. Again. In a run unmatched since the anachronistic anomaly of Wilt Chamberlain’s 1962 dominance, the idea has gone from outlandish to unavoidable. Harden has now at least thrust himself into the debate about who can be considered the greatest offensive player ever. At the very least, he can be considered to be authoring perhaps the best individual offensive season...
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