Here are some numbers for you:
39.5 points per game
7.5 assists per game
7.3 rebounds per game
Those are James Harden’s numbers over the past four games. Immaculate, yes, but truth be told, the numbers aren’t doing him justice. After a modest 29-point, 4-assist game against the Blazers to start the win streak, he went insane:
The next game against the Lakers, he dropped 50 points (14-26 FGA), 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. His fourth 50-point triple-double of his career.
Oh, and he also mashed on JaVale McGee.
Two days later, he strolls into Memphis for 32 points (9-14 FGA), 10 assists, and grabs 12 rebounds for his second-straight triple-double.
On Monday, it was announced that Harden’s performance over the week earned him his first Western Conference Player of the Week Award of the season, the 19th of his career.
He didn’t stop there, though. Nope. That same day, he went and did this to the Jazz:
And then gave them some of THAT:
BEARD DAGGER.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 18, 2018
47 points for Harden tonight pic.twitter.com/Wws7UVO4yf
"It looked like he did two step backs." pic.twitter.com/k0V0AQLStB— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 18, 2018
OK, this has nothing to do with with it. People have just been getting really worked up over this play, and it’s hilarious.
47 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, a poster, and a dagger to get the Rockets their fourth straight win.
Harden has single-handedly willed the Rockets above .500 and himself into the MVP race yet again. And it’s not like this kind of talk is outlandish. His stat-line before the win streak was 30 PPG, 8.3 AST, 5.5 REB, 44.2 FG%, 37.0 3P%. He already had a 54-point, 13-assist game against the Wizards and a 43-point, 9-assist game against the Pistons, to go along with three other 40-point games.
Even more important for his case: the Rockets need Harden to be damn-near perfect in order to win. In wins, he’s averaging 33 points, 7.5 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.4 steals on 48-percent shooting from the field and 39-percent from three.
He’s currently leading the league in scoring at 31.5 points per game, the next closest being Kevin Durant at 28.8 PPG. He’s sixth in assists at 8.2 a game, 0.6 assists behind John Wall for third, and the ONLY non-point guard in the top seven. To round it off, Harden is tied for second in steals at 2.2 per game, he leads the league in three-pointers made, and he’s far-and-way the leader in usage at a 36.4-percent USG%.
Straight up: he’s been balling.
But you need to win to be recognized, and Harden’s got the Rockets doing that now. Even if they are only one game above .500, he’s been such an undeniable force that they have no choice but to recognize Harden has a serious MVP candidate. After all, you see Anthony Davis on many people’s lists, and his New Orleans Pelicans are currently 15-16. In today’s NBA, it’s never too early to start talking about these things, and Harden’s been that good.