Max Kellerman of ESPN’s First Take just called James Harden the 7th best player in the league and had some pretty valid arguments to support his claim. However good of an offensive player James Harden is, he is still not a 2-way player.
James Harden is the statistical leader in the points category this season at 32.3 points per game, and nobody can deny that, but his unpredictable and flashy offense is still not enough for him to enter the Top 5 conversation, at least according to Kellerman.
Harden’s defensive efforts have long been a meme online basketball circles, in case you need further proof or more clarification, feel free to visit the best subreddit out there — r/NBA and see for yourself. Although his defense improved this year, he remains Houstons weakest link.
Another valid point Kellerman made was Harden not being clutch. If you are a TOP 5 NBA player and a legitimate MVP, you win games, period. Harden has failed to do so, and the most recent proof of that is the 2018 Western Conference Finals. In case you need a reminder — Houston was up 3-to-2 against the Warriors, Harden had two shots at it, BUT he didn’t show up.
Houston is currently seventh in the west with still more than half of the regular season to be played, so it’s too early to early for a definitive top 5 list, however, based on what we’ve seen thus far, I would have to agree with Kellerman’s point.
If you dig deep and analyze all aspects of Harden’s game, the good and the bad, along with a subpar performance in the season to date — Harden is CURRENTLY not Top 5 on my list. How would you rank James Harden and why?