James Harden, the free-throws MVP

In the last season, James Harden was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA after a great year in which he averaged 30.4 PPG, 8.8 APG, and 5.4 RPG. Rockets’ superstar absolutely deserved that award especially if we consider that his team finished first in the Western Conference and that they almost beat Golden State Warriors in the West Finals.

Therefore it is no question that James Harden is one of the best players in the league right now and that offensively he is almost impossible to stop. But, what I want to point out today is his free-throws numbers and his ability to get to the charity stripe. The following stat line is so incredible that it is hard to believe: James Harden has scored 5082 FTs in his career while only scoring 4911 FGs. If we compare his numbers with other great shooting guards’ numbers we observe something interesting. Michael Jordan made 4865 more field goals than free-throws, while Kobe Bryant also made 3341 more FGs than FTs. This seems quite weird because both Jordan and Kobe were known as the best attackers of their generation.

The truth is that James Harden developed a lot in the last 5 or 6 years as he became the leader of the Houston Rockets and a genuine superstar. He became much better in every aspect of the game, his only disadvantage being the defense. As proof, since 2014-2015, James Harden attempted 3542 free-throws, 158 more than Steve Nash had in his entire 18-season career. This is crazy and it shows just how good Harden is at getting the fouls.

In the same time, a lot of fans think that Harden gets the fouls too easy. There have been a lot of videos where the defenders hadn’t done anything and the referees just called the violation. A lot of these fouls are made behind the three-point line so the Rockets’ player has a lot of three-point chances. This is not right for the other players in the NBA, who are much stronger, such as LeBron James or Giannis Anteokounmpo, who don’t get the same amount of calls even though they get inside the paint a lot. I don’t want to take anything from James Harden, but I think that the referees should pay more attention because otherwise, the other contestants will lose focus and motivation. An example of this case happened a few nights ago when the Lakers’ athletes started to defend with their hands behind the back, being scared that they will be called for fouls otherwise.

However, we should be very happy that we had the chance to see James Harden in action because he is a great player. Just a few days ago he managed to get a 50-point triple-double which is amazing. So, he is definitely a great attacker.

David Istrate, info@brainbasketball.net

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