Where are all those “James Harden plays no defense” truthers now? With the 2019-20 NBA regular season wrapping up on Friday, the Houston Rockets star has once again added to his laundry list of historical accomplishments.
Harden Leads NBA in Points & Steals; Joins Elite Company
Harden has joined the likes of Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as the only three players in league history to lead the NBA in total points and steals in a single season. Iverson accomplished this feat back in the 2004-05 season. Jordan, on the other hand, in true M.J. fashion, did so on three separate occasions.
Harden’s 125 steals on the year outpaces injured Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons by six. Harden’s teammate, Robert Covington, ranked third in the category with 115. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t even Harden’s best year to date in terms of steals. Last season Harden racked up a staggering 158 steals (2nd in NBA).
In less surprising news, Harden has now captured his third consecutive scoring title, after averaging 34.3 points per game (2,335 points scored) on the year. To further drive home Harden’s dominance, the closest player in the NBA in terms of points scored on the season is Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar Damian Lillard, who has scored 357 points fewer than Harden. This, despite the fact that Harden played in just two more game than Lillard on the season.
As Roosh Williams of the Noble & Roosh Show noted on Twitter, Harden has now led the league in points, assists and now steals throughout his storied 11-year NBA career.
This marks the third straight season that the 2019-20 NBA MVP finalist has averaged at least 30.0 ppg. Harden is the decade’s leading scorer, with nearly 19,600 points dating back to January 1, 2010, this despite beginning his career as a sixth-man with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Rockets Ready to Kick Off Playoff Run Without Westbrook
When Harden takes the hardwood for Game 1 against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, he will likely be doing so without his backcourt mate, Russell Westbrook.
While Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is hopeful Westbrook will return “sooner than later” from his strained quadriceps muscle, he’s not ready to put a timetable on his injured star.
“We just don’t know,” D’Antoni said of Westbrook’s potential availability for the first round of the playoffs, per Houston Chronicles. “He’ll be re-evaluated probably every other day. We’ll see where he is. Time will tell. A little bit like Eric (Gordon,) the ankle will tell; the thigh will tell Russ when he’s ready. I don’t think they have a specific time on it yet.”
Westbrook wrapped up his first season in Houston averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Thunder this past offseason.