Making Sense of James Harden's Early Success

Making Sense of James Harden's Early Success

Scoring a bunch of points in an NBA game is not actually the hardest thing in the world to do. Well, it would be for someone like, say, me, but for your average NBA player, having a big scoring night is about opportunity meeting a lifetime of preparedness, plus a dash of luck.


Look at this list of the best NBA single-game scoring performances of all-time, and sprinkled in among the LeBrons and Jordans and Wilts, you see some names that are a bit more surprising: Tony Delk, Willie Burton, Jermaine O'Neal, Damon Stoudamire, Tracy Murray, Gilbert Arenas... If you ever get to an NBA game early enough to watch warms up, you can regularly see benchwarmers stand in the corner and sink a jarring amount of their three-point attempts. The point is, all of these guys can really play, at least when no one's guarding them.

I bring all this up in the context of the first week performance of Houston's James Harden. After the stunning preseason trade that sent him from Oklahoma City to Houston, and going from the league's best sixth man to the focal point of the Rockets' offense, he's averaging 35.3 points through three games, tops in the NBA.



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