James Harden: I’m the best player in the NBA

By Larry Brown, Source MSN Sports

James Harden is off to a phenomenal start this year with the Houston Rockets, and he is playing somewhat of a new role under head coach Mike D’Antoni. Averaging a whopping 12.7 assists per game, Harden has turned into a scoring point guard. How good has he been, exactly?

Let’s ask him.

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As part a recent feature about Harden’s early-season success with D’Antoni, the four-time All-Star was asked by Michael Lee of The Vertical who he believes is the best point guard in the NBA.

“Best point guard or best player?” Harden replied.

Harden was told he could answer either question.

“I am,” he said.

In other words, Harden believes the best player in the league is a point guard, and that point guard is himself.

Based on numbers alone, it’s hard to argue with Harden. His 12.7 assists per game is nearly three full assists higher than Russell Westbrook, who currently ranks second in the NBA with 9.9. And even with setting up his teammates that much, Harden has somehow managed to score 31.6 points per game — good for third-most in the league.

“I thrive on scoring the basketball and creating shots for my teammates,” Harden said. “I go into every game doing what it takes to win, whether it’s assists, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, whatever it is. [D’Antoni] puts a lot of trust in me, and my teammates do as well.”

D’Antoni’s success with point guards, particularly Steve Nash, is one of the main reasons he continues to find work as an NBA head coach. Seven games in D’Antoni’s system is not nearly enough to draw conclusions, but Harden is clearly enjoying himself. Add in what a teammate said previously about Harden’s reputation as a defensive liability, and the 27-year-old could be on his way to an MVP season.

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