I get it, there are people out there who don’t like watching James Harden play basketball. They think he’s boring or that watching him iso over and over is bad basketball and all this nonsense. Seeing as how I am a well documented Harden guy given our time at ASU together, I couldn’t agree more. Especially when you factor in the history that James Harden is making this season. By all accounts his performance last night against the Mavericks should have ended his consecutive 30 point streak. He shot the ball like shit, just 39/35% and only took 7 FTA. The Rockets were clearly going to win the game and perhaps Mike D’Antoni should have been thinking about the rest of the season and Harden’s usage instead of having him on the floor that late in the game, but it was clear he wanted Harden to have a chance to extend his streak. That’s a players coach right there. So when Harden got the ball on the wing with around 55 seconds left, he let it fly
It’s one thing to hear the statement 30 points in 30 straight games, but I’ve always been a visual learner so let’s see what that even looks like
Over these 30 games Harden has carried the Rockets to a 21-9 record averaging a ridiculous 41.5/7.7/7.5/2.3 on 44/37% splits with 5.7 3PM a night. Of his 27 FGA a night during this stretch, 15 of them are threes and his 11.9 FTA lead the league with the next closes player being Joel Embiid at 8.4 a night. This run has the Rockets currently tied for 4th out West with the Blazers and has Harden neck and neck with Giannis in the MVP race.
What makes this Harden run so impressive is it’s something nearly all of us have never even seen before. You see when you start talking about a streak like this, there’s only one other comparison in NBA history, and that’s Wilt. To put things into perspective, Harden is 1 game away from tying Wilt’s second longest streak of consecutive 30 point games at 31. He did that from February 25, 1962 – December 8, 1962 which is certainly impressive. However, when you realize that his first consecutive streak was 61 games that went from November 4, 1962 – February 22, 1962 you then realize that Wilt had 30+ points in 96 of 97 games. I do not think Harden can reach that level because I don’t think any human ever will be able to match that. In my opinion that’s one of the most ridiculous streaks in NBA history.
The big question now is what will this streak do to both Harden and the Rockets come the Spring. You may not think the two are related, but Harden has an outrageous 41% usage rate during this streak and on the season it’s at 39%. Obviously the All Star break will help in terms of rest, but I’d be curious to see if the Rockets start to care less about the streak and more about Harden being right for the playoffs since it’s pretty clear when he’s 100% nobody in the league can guard him. The last thing you would want is for all this usage to rear its ugly head at the most important time of the season. It also doesn’t help that they are in a dogfight for homecourt, because they need Harden every single night to be at this level.
Whether you like watching Harden play or you don’t, whether you think he’s an MVP or just a playoff choker, the one thing we can’t deny is what we’re currently seeing down in Houston is one of the greatest individual scoring stretches ever, and while it will eventually end because everyone has an off night sooner or later, it wouldn’t shock me if we saw this streak get into the 40s.
Also, I love how much Daryl Morey has embraced this run while also enjoying dancing on the haters during this whole thing