The bearded one continues to toy with defenders and make us all question whether or not his otherworldly maneuvers on the hardwood are legal or not.
After extensive analysis by the self proclaimed experts of the NBA Twitter world, the official NBA referee association stepped in to put a stop to the madness that ensued after his inexplicable move in the preseason.
It is completely ridiculous how this man seems to invent a new and borderline illegal moves each season. Last year it was his patented step back that garnered so much attention from far and wide. Now his...hold on. What DO we call the move Harden laid on the Shanghai Sharks the other day? 'Around the world?' Yeah, sounds about right. Let's roll with it. It's possible that one of these days, Harden will play with fire one game too long and get called for extra steps. For now however, he's in the clear and he will undoubtably take the NBA world by storm by claiming another victim in the near future.
If we take more of a macro approach to his impact on the game, we can see that he is pushing the boundaries of what one player should be able to contribute on the basketball court.
In 2016-17, he led the league in assists with a substantial 11.2 dimes per game. Last season, he led the league in scoring
at 30.4 per game. Here we have a player who had dominated two statistical categories in consecutive seasons and almost finished the season leading both at the same time not too long ago. Regardless if you are glancing at his output from a real world or fantasy perspective, well especially fantasy, he is out of this world.
First of all, his passing is out of this world. We should feel comfortable slotting him in as a top five passer in the game. His AST% has ranked in the 97th percentile or higher every year since 12-13 according to Cleaning the Glass. Additionally, he is in the 100th percentile (the very best) the last two years. If we turn our attention to his AST:USG ration which compensates for how often Harden is operating as a primary playmaker on the court, he has still ranked no lower than the 68th percentile since his rookie year. Considering his usage rate is near or at the top of the league each season, that's pretty impressive.
The best thing about this flawless screen and roll action between Harden and Capela is how three defenders (Caulley-Stein, Temple, and Labissiere) have totally keyed in on Harden and are seemingly oblivious to everything else occurring on the court at that moment. The first element of Harden's game opens things up for his teammates, especially Capela.
We can't forget about his scoring, of course.
Geez, he made that way too easy.
Harden's scoring average has increased every season except one since he entered the league. You know the story. He simply can't be stopped when he is dead set on getting buckets. Step back threes? He's dropping them in your eye. Think you've got him closed off? He's baiting you into reaching into the cookie jar and getting to the line. Well how about we bring extra coverage? Well, I wouldn't advise that either. He is an elite assist getter as mentioned earlier. The only other option remaining seems to be to attack him on the other end of the floor and throw those disheartening baskets right back at him.
I am sorry to inform you that isn't a great avenue to take either. He has improved as a post defender and his size allows him to hold his own there against most opponents.
When you add all of these elements together, Harden might be the most unstoppable force in the National Basketball Association. Of course it is debatable and several other names hold a place in this discussion.
As he continues along in his Hall of Fame career, he continues to stretch and bend the history book and that could continue this season. Houston's over/under stands at 56.5. The Rockets certainly have the talent to exceed that number. Even if Chris Paul misses time, (he will) Harden has the singular ability to carry his team into the 57-60 win range. Although the roster has changed, he led the Rockets to a 55 win campaign just two short seasons ago. CP3's absence would also give Harden the chance to drop eye watering statlines and rise to the top of the league in scoring and assists. It is not out of the question.
There will be obstacles for sure. The field has a great chance of taking home MVP honors simply because he won it last year. Voter fatigue is a real thing and that hurts.
Depsite all this, I'm sticking with the beard. Giannis and Davis have yet to establish their squads at the top of the conference and thats what it takes to win this award. Curry and KD will steal votes from each other. LeBron will go through Javale Mcgee size growing pains in LA.
Give me Harden now till the end of the 18-19 campaign and be sure to keep your eyes on him. It's only a matter of time before he breaks Twitter again and leaves the referee police to pick up the pieces.