James Harden is currently on a scoring tear not seen since the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, nearly 50 years ago. The Beard has topped the 30-point mark in 32 consecutive games. We’ll take a look at how it all began, the streak’s significance, and what the future holds for Harden’s run.
James Harden’s Historic Streak
It was a long time before Harden, or the Houston Rockets got cooking this season. Houston got off to a shaky start. The Rockets began the season 12-14, prior to Harden’s historic streak. On December 13th, it all began. The Beard and the Rockets hosted the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James in a pivotal, early-season matchup. LeBron hit the first two baskets of the game, but Harden wasn’t about to let Houston’s woes continue. The Beard’s first basket of the game was his best dunk of the season.
A vicious slam over JaVale McGee was followed by a sneer at LeBron by the Beard. The jam was an indicator that the real “King James” may reside in Houston. Harden went on to finish the night with a 50-point triple-double. The Beard hasn’t scored under 30 points since. And the Rockets are 21-10 during Harden’s amazing run. Harden’s 32 consecutive games topping 30 points ties him with Chamberlain for second on the all-time list.
The Significance of the Streak
Harden’s scoring spree is about more than just fancy stats. The Beard has almost single-handedly kept the Rockets in the playoff hunt during his streak. Chris Paul has missed 23 games this season. CP3’s presence on the floor as another playmaker opens up the court for the Rockets. This allows Harden more spacing for isolation situations and creating opportunities for teammates. Without Paul, the defense is able to focus is on the Beard, making life more difficult for the reigning-MVP. Clint Capela has missed 15 games in this span. Houston’s under-the-radar center is a crucial part of one of Harden’s deadliest offensive arsenals. The pick-and-roll. Together, Harden and Capela are nearly unstoppable in the pick-and-roll.
The Beard’s consistency in dominating opposing defenses has been utterly impressive, given the amount of time Paul and Capela have missed. Eric Gordon, Houston’s versatile guard is an exemplary fit alongside Harden, but the veteran has missed extended time as well. Danuel House Jr. was an exemplary fit alongside Harden, only to be then sent back to the G-League. Combine integrating three new guys (Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, Iman Shumpert) onto the roster, with these factors, and Harden’s streak is an astonishing feat. What’s even more astounding is the impact the streak has had on the team. The Rockets’ superstar has launched Houston all the way from the 14thspot, up to the 5thseed, into the thick of the playoff hunt.
How long can Harden keep scoring 30 a night? James has averaged a whopping 41.5 points per game throughout his scoring run. He’s averaging 36.6 points per contest this season. That’s the most points a player’s averaged since Michael Jordan, back in the 1986-87 campaign. Many people expect the return of Clint Capela to have an effect on Harden’s scoring. The same people thought Chris Paul’s return would end his streak. The truth is, Harden can score 30 points a night for the rest of the season. The return of Capela only makes the Beard’s offensive arsenal deadlier.
As of now, it looks like Harden won’t be resting for the playoffs. Houston will be battling for playoff positioning down the stretch. Harden and company currently hold the 5th seed in the West, but Houston’s goal is a top-3 seed in the playoffs. Harden has to score for the Rockets to win games. Mike D’Antoni’s entire system revolves around the Beard’s driving and shooting ability. The streak won’t go on forever. If you’re a Harden-Hater, the streak could end tonight, or it could end next season. Only time will tell when Harden’s historic-run will come to a halt. Don’t wait around praying for it to end, you might be praying for a long time.
GUANGZHOU, CHINA – AUGUST 12: The NBA player James Harden of the Houston Rockets attends a commercial event at Haixinsha Asian Games Theme Park on August 12, 2017 in Guangzhou, China. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)