When it comes to James Harden, you've heard it all before. People hate how he plays because they think it's "boring", he chokes in the playoffs, he ruined the game blah blah blah. Really I just think people hate the fact that he destroys their favorite team on a regular basis. Doesn't matter how good your defense is, nobody can really stop this man offensively. He's going to go down as one of the best offensive shooting guards of all time whether he wins a ring or not. Those are just the facts whether you like him or not.
Well now that he's going to win his third straight scoring title, he's starting to get into some pretty rare air in NBA history. He just put up three straight seasons averaging 30.4, 36.1, and 34.4 while shooting a combined average of 44/36% and 4.3 3PM a night. Monster type production. In the history of the league winning 3 scoring titles puts Harden in a group of Neil Johnston/Bob McAdoo/George Mikan for the 4th most all time. Next up he'll have the Durant/George Gervin/Iverson who have 4 total.
My question is, how many do we think he ends up with once he finally retires? One of the big questions heading into this season was how his offensive usage/production might change now that a ball dominant player like Westbrook was once again his teammate. The answer we've learned is not that much. Even with his usage rate dropping from 40.5% last year to 36.4% this year and his scoring from 36.1 to 34.4, Harden is still the league's best scorer. That makes me believe this will continue to be true for the duration of Westbrook's deal. Now that the Rockets have embraced this small ball style of play, I don't see things really changing anytime soon.
Harden just completed his age 30 season and he plays around 36 minutes a night with high usage. This pairing has at least 3 more seasons together so let's say Harden is at the very least 90% of this version for the next three years. Is it a shock to think he could win at least 2 more scoring titles in the next three years playing next to Westbrook? History tells us once you get to around 34 that's usually it when it comes to scoring titles, I mean Jordan is the oldest all time at 34. I don't think it's a stretch to think that Harden could have at least 5 by his age 34 season.
That would put him solely in 3rd place all time (if Durant doesn't snag one in BKN) and just 2 behind Wilt who is second with 7 (Jordan leads with 10 obviously). Call me crazy, but until I see with my own eyes that Harden is starting to regress offensively, I'm of the mind that Wilt's 7 is in play. Especially if Harden keeps his streak going and wins the next two which he has to be the favorite for.
I'll admit, I am very much a Harden guy. It dates back to our ASU days together, but I think it's important to recognize that even if you despise him as a player we're witnessing one of the greatest offensive players and scorers the league has ever seen. You start knocking on the door of a group that consists of Wilt and Jordan, I mean that's pretty wild.
So what's your number. Does he catch Wilt? Are we going to see something never been done before with a player winning scoring titles after the age of 34? No chance he catches Jordan, or is there?