Whatever you think about James Harden as a basketball player, one thing is certain. We are watching a Hall Of Fame player. Last night when James Harden broke the 20,000 point plateau which is a pretty big deal, he all but punched his ticket. This was obviously only a matter of time, but of the 44 players currently ahead of James Harden in scoring, 14 of them are not in the Hall. Of those 14, 6 are still playing and a total of at least 11 are locks for the Hall of Fame (Joe Johnson would make it 12). That means the only two players to have ever passed 20,000 points who are not in the Hall are Antawn Jamison and Tom Chambers. So you can hate Harden's style of play all you want, joining the 20K Points Club is a big deal and something few ever do. You can save the postseason snarks for another blog, because you gave guys like Melo, Vince, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins, and Karl Malone who are all NBA legends to achieve this mark and not win a title. Maybe Harden's destiny is to join those guys as some of the best scorers to never win, but when you start talking about the 20K Club it's the best names the league has to offer.
So the next question becomes how high can Harden get on this list? He's in his age 30 season, so let's say he has another 6-7 years left. He plays a lot of games and a lot of minutes so I think that's a conservative number. If you look at it, since he's been in HOU he averages around 2200-2300 points a season. He went nuts last season at 2,818 but I think it's not crazy to think he can maintain at least that 2,200 average for the next 7 seasons. You add another 15,400 points to his current total of 20,022 and he's sitting at a pretty 35,422. That would have him passing Kobe. Now maybe you think I'm being too aggressive in what I think Harden can average this next wave of his career. Even if you want to drop that down to like 25 a game playing 70 games a year that's 1,750 points. Over 7 more years of that sort of production on average you're still looking at around 34K points which would still pass Kobe.
The evolution of the game and how things have become easier for offensive players in this era are obviously major factors in all of this. There are also other guys on this list like LeBron and Durant that you expect to go on the same sort of offensive run who are going to play their way into finishing top 5 all time in scoring (LeBron currently 4th, Durant 31st). But what James Harden did last night is a big deal in terms of his place in NBA history when it comes to being a scorer. The next tier, the 30K Club is the rarest of air though, with guys you may have heard of
you get into that air space and you aren't just a HOF talent, you are one of the best to ever do it. Barring injury I think Harden has a great shot at joining those seven, so it's pretty cool to think we are seeing one of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen play right now. The fact that he makes so many people angry with how he plays makes it even more enjoyable in my opinion.
I knew when I used to watch Harden at ASU he'd be good, but I don't think even I thought he would be THIS good. Nobody did outside of like Daryl Morey,