Can James Harden Average 40 Points Per Game Next Season?
By: Alex Marcheschi
When the Houston Rockets signed Mike D’Antoni, the coach behind Steve Nash’s most dominant years in Phoenix, I immediately thought one thing: this is huge for James Harden.
Harden averaged 29 points per game last season in a very strange offense after going through two coaches in one season. His time in Houston has been weird. He was disappointed about being traded from his brothers in OKC, and he admits that he still thinks about it. Rockets GM Daryl Morey, the man leading the charge behind the “analytics” movement in the NBA, made some strange moves. He signed players like Ty Lawson, Josh Smith and Dwight Howard solely for the value behind their names. It’s almost like he has no concept of team chemistry. Then Morey went ahead and fired Kevin McHale as head coach in a move that was widely criticized by the basketball community. Needless to say, he’s making it hard on Harden.
Basically all Morey was doing to better Harden’s life was paying him a max contract. He was not helping him out on the court by any means…until now. I absolutely love the Mike D’Antoni hire, Harden will thrive in his offense. D’Antoni was the brains behind Nash’s success. I know Harden and Nash aren’t necessarily the same player, but I think they’re a lot more comparable than most think. Harden’s passing ability ranks among the best in the league and his shifty style of play rattles defenders just as much as Nash’s revolutionary style used to. Just like Nash, Harden can run an offense through his playmaking ability. Harden has surpassed Melo as the best pure scorer in the league. Harden also struggles on defense, just like Nash did, and D’Antoni was able to hide that by implementing a style of play that wore out the other team to the point where endurance became more important than defense.
By now, those of you who read the site on a regular basis know that I like to make some outrageous sports predictions. LeBron bailed me out HEAVY here and got the blog off to a pretty hot start. Now, I’m going to make my first prediction for the 2016-2017 NBA season, Big Cat and PFT would be proud.
James Harden will be the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963 to average 40+ points per game for an entire season.
Everything seems to be working out for him right now. He has the right coach, Dwight is leaving and the Rockets will need to make some drastic strategic moves in order to contend in the West. I think they can do it through D’Antoni and Harden. It’s one of those things that’s just crazy enough to work. Give Mike enough time in the lab and free reign over coaching decisions, and I think he can cook up a lil somethin’-somethin’ to get the pot boiling.
I’m going to go ahead and start the hashtag #LetHardenEat…Eat on the court that is, I mean the biggest wildcard in this whole thing is trusting James to get in the best shape of his life during the off-season (and also avoid the Kardashian family).
In summation, I truly believe that Harden can average 40 a game if given the keys to the Ferrari. I trust D’Antoni to optimize his skills and I think Harden might truly do some legendary shit next year. Can he really average 11 more points per game next season? Yes, he can, as long as someone is crazy enough to trust him…and D’Antoni is.
I’m a huge gut feeling guy, and I love to see people thrive when their backs are against the wall. D’Antoni got destroyed for how he handled the Lakers job, but there’s no arguing he was a great coach in Phoenix. Harden gets murdered by the media for his lack of defensive hustle and nonchalant attitude. This just might be the perfect marriage. Can’t wait to see what they do together. Let the boy eat!!!