James Harden’s latest triple-double, a 40 point, 10 rebound, 15 assist and two steal effort in a 124-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers was a masterclass.
The man can literally do no wrong as the Nets are now 14-1 since a victory against the Indiana Pacers on February 11.
The only squad to have beaten them in that time are the Dallas Mavericks, who have been having their own struggles but seem to have a knack for beating some of the league’s elite teams.
This current 15-1 run is all the more impressive because Harden has been the only one that’s played in every game. Kevin Durant has only seen one game of action in that span, while Kyrie Irving has played 12.
Harden’s value has been magnified by his success in Brooklyn. While Irving and Durant were certainly doing all right before him, and would have still made the playoffs, they’re almost certainly an Eastern Conference Finals lock with The Beard in tow.
My key takeaway from Harden’s performance is that the man truly cares about winning. I now understand why he turned down that $100 million extension to force his way out of Houston.
In this winning stretch, he’s averaged a triple-double of 27.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 11.2 assists while shooting 48.2% from the field and 38.4% from deep.
I won’t be sitting here and trying to argue who the best player on the Nets is. Their three-headed superstar trio are all superstars.
But what’s unique about Harden is that he is now also making a possible case as the greatest “glue guy” in the history of the NBA.
While capable of putting up superb stat lines on any given night, his work has a point guard on the Nets has made everyone around him better, while allowing Irving to continue shining in a primary scorer role. In the recent example against the Pacers, eight Nets players played over 20 minutes. Seven of them scored in double figures.
At this point, if the Nets continue on course, Harden will force himself into the top three MVP candidates. If the argument is that the MVP should be the best player on the best team, it would be hard to argue against Harden if he helps keeps up with his numbers while also leading the Nets to a top-three record.
However, his blessing is his curse at the same time. Playing with Durant and Irving, who will have plenty of excellent games on their own this season, will always make it harder for him to win the MVP trophy again.
Rockets fans will feel a tinge of sadness while watching Harden succeed in this new team. They’re on a franchise-worst losing streak, and have dropped 18 games in a row thanks to horrible injury luck to Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo, and John Wall.