James Edward Harden Jr. (born August 26, 1989) is an American professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for Arizona State, where he was named a consensus All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009. Harden was selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 2012, he was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Thunder and helped the team reach the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in five games.
Harden was traded to Houston before the 2012–13 NBA season. During his tenure with the Rockets, he became one of the NBA's most prolific scorers and earned recognition as the best shooting guard in the NBA, as well as one of the top overall players in the league. In 2018, Harden led the league in scoring and was named the NBA Most Valuable Player. He is a seven-time NBA All-Star, and has earned All-NBA Team honors six times, including five times to the first team.
High school career
Harden attended Artesia High School in Lakewood, California. In his sophomore year, he averaged 13.2 points as Artesia went 28–5. He improved his stats to 18.8 points, 7.7 boards and 3.5 assists in his junior season and led Artesia to the California state title and a 33–1 record. Artesia repeated as state champions in Harden's final year after going 33–2. Harden had similar stats during the previous season: 18.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. He was named a McDonald's All-American, and also earned second-team Parade All-American honors.
He also helped his AAU team, Pump-N-Run Elite, to the 2006 Las Vegas Adidas Super 64 championship. Harden had 34 points in the victory over a DC Assault team which included Michael Beasley, Nolan Smith and Austin Freeman. In the game against Houston Hoops, played on the same day, Harden had 33 points. In the final, Pump-N-Run Elite beat Kevin Love's Southern California All-Stars.
Harden's freshman year, Arizona State was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 Conference. Behind his 17.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, the Sun Devils went 21–13 (9–9) and finished tied for fifth in the Pac-10. They were considered a bubble team for the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Left out of the tournament, they were selected to the 2008 NIT field and defeated Alabama State and Southern Illinois before falling to defending national champion Florida.
Entering his sophomore year, Harden appeared on many pre-season All-American lists and on the cover of the Sports Illustrated college basketball preview issue. He was named to the Wooden Award preseason watch list. On November 30, 2008, Harden scored a career-high 40 points in an 88–58 victory over UTEP.
Harden finished his sophomore campaign with averages of 20.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. He was named to the 2009 All-Pac 10 Tournament Team following Arizona State's defeat by USC at the Staples Center. Following the conference season, Harden was named the Pacific-10 Conference's Player of the Year. He was also named a consensus All-American. After the conclusion of the season (a second-round NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse), Harden declared for the 2009 NBA draft. He employed Rob Pelinka as his agent.
Harden was selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He recorded the fourth highest 3-point percentage in NBA history (.375) for a player under the age of 21 (min. of 150 attempts) during the 2009–10 season. He connected on seven straight 3-point field goals over two games (November 18 and 20), recording the most consecutive 3-point makes by a rookie since Houston guard Michael Dickerson made eight straight in May 1999. He posted a season-high 26 points against the Golden State Warriors on December 7, 2009. He was subsequently named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. During the 2010–11 season, he scored 10-plus points on 54 occasions, including a season-high 26 points against the Phoenix Suns on March 6, 2011. Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 62 games (two starts) during the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, as he received the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. He scored in double-figures in all but four of his appearances during the season. He scored a season-high 40 points against Phoenix on April 18, 2012, becoming the first NBA player in a reserve role to score 40 points since Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois in March 2010. Harden helped the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals, where they were defeated in five games by the Miami Heat.
During the 2012 free agency period, Oklahoma City attempted to sign Harden to a four-year contract extension worth between $52 and $55 million. Harden later contended that he was given too little time to consider the offer.
After failing to agree on a contract extension with the Thunder, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets on October 27, 2012, along with Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward, in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks (which became Steven Adams in 2013 and Mitch McGary in 2014), and a second round pick (which became Álex Abrines in 2013). Rockets general manager Daryl Morey called Harden a "foundational" player and expected him to be Houston's featured player despite previously only playing a supporting role behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. On October 31, 2012, Harden signed a contract extension with the Rockets for five years worth $80 million. That same day, he became the first-ever NBA player to score 37 or more points while registering a double-digit assist total in his team debut, posting 37 points, a career-high 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and one block in a 105–96 win over the Detroit Pistons. He became just the fourth NBA player in the last 25 years to post those totals in a single game and matched the third-highest point total for any NBA player in his team debut (most for Rockets debut). Two days later, he scored 45 points against the Atlanta Hawks. His 82 total points were the most scored by a player in his first two games with a team in NBA history, surpassing the previous mark held by Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 79 points in his first two career games with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959. He registered the first triple-double of his career on February 2, 2013 against the Charlotte Bobcats, recording 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Harden was named as a reserve for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, marking his first All-Star selection. He recorded 15 points, six rebounds and three assists in a 143–138 win by the West over the East. On February 20, 2013, Harden scored a career-high 46 points in a 122–119 win over his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden had one of the greatest statistical seasons in team history in his first campaign with Houston. He averaged 25.9 points (fifth-best in the NBA), 4.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 78 games (all starts), becoming just the fifth player in team history to reach 2,000 points in one campaign (2,023 points). He surpassed Moses Malone's team mark for free throws made in a season (630 FTM in 1981–82), joining Malone as the only two Rockets players to ever reach 600 free throws made in a single season. Harden joined Gilbert Arenas (2005–06 and 2006–07), Kobe Bryant (2005–06 and 2007–08) and Jerry Stackhouse (2000–01) as the only four players in NBA history to record at least 600 free throws made and hit 150 or more 3-pointers in one season. Harden joined Tracy McGrady (four times in 2004–05) and Hakeem Olajuwon (three times in 1992–93) as the only Rockets to ever capture Player of the Week honors three or more times in one season. He was named to the 2012-13 All-NBA Third Team, marking his first career All-NBA Team selection while becoming just the seventh player in Rockets history to earn All-NBA recognition.
Harden was selected by the head coaches as a reserve for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, which marked his second consecutive All-Star selection. He was later named as a replacement starter for the All-Star Game, where he recorded eight points, five assists, one rebound and one steal in 23:46 of action. He was twice named Western Conference Player of the Week during the season, both coming in consecutive weeks (February 24 – March 2; March 3–9). He became the first Rockets player ever to pick up Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks in the same season. On December 26, 2013 against the Memphis Grizzlies, Harden became the first player in NBA history to register at least 27 points on two or fewer field goals made (2-9 FG), finishing with a career-best 22-of-25 from the stripe and tying the Rockets single-game record for free throws made (22-27 FT by Sleepy Floyd in February 1991). On February 5, 2014 against the Phoenix Suns, Harden played in his 120th game with Houston, scoring 23 points on 12-for-12 from the foul line to become just the third player to score at least 3,000 points in his first 120 games played with the Rockets, joining Elvin Hayes (3,320) and Tracy McGrady (3,056). On February 25, 2014, he scored a season-high 43 points in a 129–103 win over the Sacramento Kings. At the season's end, he earned All-NBA First Team honors.
Over the first two months of the season, Harden was in MVP contention. On December 11, 2014, he scored a season-high 44 points in a 113–109 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings. On December 13, 2014, he recorded his third career triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in a 108–96 win over the Denver Nuggets. On December 22, 2014, he tied his season high with 44 points in a 110–95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
On January 19, 2015, Harden set a new season high with 45 points against the Indiana Pacers. He tied that mark with 45 points against the Trail Blazers on February 8, 2015. On February 23, 2015, he recorded his second triple-double of the season with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 113–102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. On March 6, 2015, he recorded his third triple-double of the season with 38 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 103–93 win over the Detroit Pistons. On March 19, 2015, he scored a career-high 50 points against the Denver Nuggets. He topped that mark with 51 points against the Kings on April 1, 2015. It was his 33rd 30-point game of the season and his ninth 40-point game of the season. He became the first player in franchise history to have two 50-point games in a season. Four days later, he had 41 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder for his 10th 40-point game of the season. In the Rockets' regular season finale on April 15, Harden recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 117–91 win over the Utah Jazz. He helped the Rockets win their first division title since 1994 and clinched the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Harden was again named to the All-NBA First Team, and finished second in the NBA MVP voting behind Stephen Curry. Harden was later voted the inaugural National Basketball Players Association's MVP for the 2014–15 season.
In Game 5 of the Rockets' second round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, Harden recorded his first career playoff triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Harden scored a playoff career-high 45 points. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Harden had a forgettable finale, with a playoff-record 13 turnovers and 14 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Harden scored 43 points against the Sacramento Kings on November 6, followed by 46 points against the Los Angeles Clippers the next night. He subsequently became the first Rocket to score 43-plus points in consecutive games since Malone had two streaks of three games doing so during the 1981–82 season. On November 18, head coach Kevin McHale was fired after the Rockets began the season with a 4–7 record. Later that night, Harden scored 45 points in a 108–103 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers. On November 27, he scored 50 points in a 116–114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden was 14 for 28 from the field and 16 for 20 at the line in his third career game with 50 or more points. On January 20, Harden had his first triple-double of the season and seventh of his career with 33 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and 14 assists in a 123–114 loss to the Detroit Pistons. He became the first player to have at least 33 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists in a game since Wilt Chamberlain had 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists for Philadelphia in March 1968. On January 24, he recorded his second triple-double of the season with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 115–104 win over the Dallas Mavericks. On March 25, he recorded his third triple-double of the season with 32 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a 112–109 win over the Toronto Raptors. Harden finished March with 457 points, 152 assists and 102 rebounds, becoming the first player to record at least 450 points, 150 assists and 100 rebounds in a single month since Oscar Robertson did it in December 1967. Harden finished the 2015–16 season with 374 turnovers, besting Artis Gilmore's mark of 366 in 1977–78, the first season the NBA recorded turnovers. Harden set career marks in points (29), assists (7.5) and rebounds (6.1) to join LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average at least 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a season.
On July 9, 2016, Harden signed a four-year, $118.1 million contract extension with the Rockets. In September 2016, new Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni announced that Harden would take on the point guard role to begin the 2016–17 season. In the Rockets' season opener on October 26, Harden had 34 points, a career-high 17 assists and eight rebounds in a 120–114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming just the second player in NBA history to record at least 30 points and 15 assists in an opener—Tim Hardaway had 32 and 18 for the Golden State Warriors in 1990. On December 14, he recorded 15 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in just three quarters to lead the Rockets to a 132–98 win over the Sacramento Kings. It was Harden's fifth triple-double of the season and the 14th of his career, tying him with Hakeem Olajuwon for most in franchise history. He set the franchise record two days later with his sixth triple-double of the season and 15th of his career. In the Rockets' 122–110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Harden helped the team set an NBA-record with 24 three-pointers, as he finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. On December 23, he tied a career high with 17 assists in a 115–109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. On December 30, he recorded his seventh triple-double of the season with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 140–116 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
On December 31, 2016, Harden recorded yet another triple-double with 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds in a 129–122 win over the New York Knicks, becoming the first player in NBA history to finish with a 50-15-15 stat line. He tied Wilt Chamberlain for the most points in a triple-double in NBA history—Chamberlain pulled the feat during the 1967–68 season, with 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists. Harden set career highs for points and three-pointers (with nine) and matched his career best for assists. It was his 17th career triple-double and his fourth career 50-point game. Two days later, he recorded his ninth triple-double of the season in a win over the Washington Wizards and was named Western Conference Player of the Week for a third time. It was Harden's 12th Player of the Week honor, matching Hakeem Olajuwon for the most Player of the Week awards in franchise history. Harden's career-best December run earned him Western Conference Player of the Month honors. His 10th and 11th triple-doubles came in back-to-back games on January 8 and 10, both resulting in wins. His two performances saw him become the fourth player in NBA history with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in consecutive games—Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook are the three others to do it. His 12th and 13th triple-doubles came in back-to-back games on January 15 and 17. On January 27, he recorded his 14th triple-double of the season with 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in a 123–118 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the first player in NBA history with multiple 50-point triple-doubles in a season. On February 3 against the Chicago Bulls, Harden scored his 10,000th point as a Rocket, passing Yao Ming for sixth place in franchise history. On February 11, he scored 40 points in three quarters (his ninth 40-point game of the season) to help the Rockets win 133–102 over the Phoenix Suns. He played just 29 minutes against the Suns to become the first Rockets player since Sleepy Floyd in 1991 to score 40 points in less than 30 minutes. On February 15, he recorded his 15th triple-double of the season with 38 points 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 117–109 loss to the Miami Heat. Between March 12 and 18, he had four straight triple-doubles, giving him 19 for the season. He finished the regular season with 22 triple-doubles and became the first player in NBA history to finish the regular season with at least 2,000 points (2,356), 900 assists (907) and 600 rebounds (659). He placed second in league MVP voting to former teammate Westbrook.
In Game 5 of the Rockets' second round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Harden recorded his second career postseason triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 110–107 overtime loss; the loss saw the Rockets go down 3–2 in the series. The Rockets were eliminated by the Spurs with a 114–75 loss in Game 6. Harden capped his stellar season by tying a season low with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 3:15 left.
On July 8, 2017, Harden signed a four-year contract extension with the Rockets for approximately $160 million, giving him a total six-year deal with $228 million guaranteed—the richest contract in NBA history. The deal will keep Harden the face of the Rockets through the 2022–23 season. On November 5, he scored a career-high 56 points in a 137–110 win over the Utah Jazz, falling just shy of Calvin Murphy's 57-point franchise record set in 1978. Harden joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to have at least 10 assists and shoot better than 75 percent from the field in a 50-point performance. On November 16, he had 23 of his 48 points in the second quarter while the Rockets scored 90 points in the first half en route to a 142–116 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets made 61 percent of their first-half shots to get the second-most points in a first half in NBA history. He went on to become the first player in team history to score at least 20 points in each of the team's first 20 games of a season. Harden was named Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in October and November, marking the fifth time Harden has received the honor, all coming as a Rocket. On December 9, he scored 48 points to help the Rockets rally from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 124–117, scoring at least 20 points in each of Houston's 24 games, becoming only the second player to accomplish such a feat since the 1990–91 season. On December 20, despite Harden's 51 points, the Rockets were defeated 122–116 by the Los Angeles Lakers, ending their 14-game winning streak. Harden set a franchise record by scoring at least 20 points in his 30th straight game. The previous record was held by Malone, who did it in 29 straight games in the 1981–82 season. Two days later, Harden had a second straight 51-point performance in a 128–118 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It was Harden's third 50-point game of the season and he became the first player in franchise history to have two straight 50-point games. He also became the first NBA player to score 50 or more in consecutive games since Kobe Bryant did so in four straight in March 2007. On December 31 against the Lakers, Harden scored 40 points before leaving with a hamstring injury late in the fourth quarter. Without Harden, the Rockets won 148–142 in double overtime. The following day, he was ruled out for two weeks with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. He missed seven games as a result. On January 26, he had 23 points and 11 assists in a 115–113 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Harden moved into second in Rockets history in assists with 3,347, passing Allen Leavell's 3,339. On January 30, in a 114–107 win over the Orlando Magic, Harden became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points as part of a triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his third triple-double of the season. Harden scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 57 points Calvin Murphy scored in 1978 to break Houston's single-game scoring record. It was his fourth 50-point game of the season and bested his previous career high of 56 points set in November against Utah. On March 25, he helped the Rockets reach 60 wins in a season for the first time in franchise history, recording a triple-double (fourth of season, 35th of career) with 18 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in three quarters in a 118–99 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets finished the regular season as the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history, with a franchise-best 65–17 record. Harden won his first scoring title, averaging 30.4 points per game, second in franchise history to Malone's 31.1 in 1981–82.
In Game 1 of the Rockets' first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Harden scored 44 points in a 104–101 win. In Game 1 of their second-round series against the Jazz, Harden scored 41 points in a 110–96 win. It was his sixth 40-point playoff game of his career. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Harden scored 41 points in a 119–106 loss to the Golden State Warriors. In Game 4 against the Warriors, Harden scored a game-high 30 points to help the Rockets even the series at 2–2 with a 95–92 win. In Game 6, he recorded 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a 115–86 loss. Despite a 32-point effort from Harden in Game 7, the Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs with a 101–92 defeat. In June, Harden was named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the 2017–18 season, becoming the third player in franchise history to receive the award, joining Moses Malone (1978–79 and 1981–82) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993–94). That same month, he was voted the National Basketball Players Association's MVP for the 2017–18 season, earning the honor for a second time.
The Rockets started the season with an 11–14 record. By the end of December, Harden had carried the Rockets to a 21–15 record with fellow All-Star Chris Paul out with a hamstring injury. On January 11, he had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in three quarters to lead the Rockets to a 141–113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also made eight 3-pointers to extend his NBA record to 12 games in a row with at least five. It was Harden's 13th game of the season with 40 points, surpassing Malone's franchise record, and his seventh in the previous nine games as he continued to carry the team with Paul and Eric Gordon out with injuries. In the following game on January 13, Harden scored 38 points but was just 1 for 17 on 3-point attempts in a 116–109 loss to the Orlando Magic. On January 14, he scored 57 points in a 112–94 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. On January 16, he scored 58 points in a 145–142 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets. On January 23, he scored a career-high 61 points to go with 15 rebounds in a 114–110 win over the New York Knicks, thus setting the fourth-longest streak for 30-point games in NBA history at 21—at the time, Wilt Chamberlain held the three longer streaks (65, 31 and 25). With 37 points on January 29 against the New Orleans Pelicans, Harden extended his streak of 30-point games to 24 and had his 11th straight game with at least 35 points. With 30 points against the Denver Nuggets on February 1 and 43 points against the Utah Jazz on February 2, Harden set the third-longest streak in NBA history for games with 30-plus points. With 42 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 13, Harden scored 30 or more points for the 31st consecutive game, tying Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in league history. On February 21, in the Rockets' first game after the All-Star break, Harden scored 30 points against the Los Angeles Lakers for his 32nd consecutive game with 30-plus points.
After missing the Rockets' next game with an illness and a strained neck, his return game on February 25 saw him score 28 points against the Atlanta Hawks, snapping his 32-game streak with at least 30. On February 28, he scored 58 points in a 121–118 win over the Miami Heat. On March 19, he scored 31 points in a win against the Hawks and became the first player in NBA history to score 30 or more points against all 29 other teams in a single season. On March 20, he scored 57 points in a 126–125 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, marking his seventh 50-point game of the season. Two days later, he matched his career high with 61 points, including 27 in the first quarter, to lead the Rockets to a 111–105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. For these performances, he received his fourth Western Conference Player of the Week honor of the 2018–19 season. On March 31, Harden had 50 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119–108 win over the Sacramento Kings to record his ninth 50-point game of the regular season. It was his fifth career 50-point triple-double, the most of any player in NBA history. He also became the ninth player in NBA history to make 2,000 3-pointers in their career. After a 135–103 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3, he became the third person in NBA history to record 2,700+ points and 500+ assists in a single season. In a 149–113 blowout win against the Phoenix Suns on April 7, Harden's 30-point, 13-rebound, nine-assist, and two-steal performance matched and broke several records: he tied Kobe Bryant for the most 30-point games in one season for any NBA player in the past 30 years with 56 games; became the second player in NBA History (Michael Jordan, 1989–90) to record 2,700 points, 500 assists, and 500 rebounds in one season; and joined Michael Jordan as the only player to average at least 30 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals in one season. He finished the season with the largest scoring margin (8.1 ppg) over the second-leading scorer since Chamberlain in 1962–63.
Harden led the Rockets to a Game 2 win against the Utah Jazz with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists—his third career triple-double during the postseason—to give the Rockets a 2–0 series lead in the first round. In Game 3 against the Jazz, he had one of the worst shooting nights of his career when he started the game 0-of-15, a figure breaking the NBA playoff record for most missed consecutive shots without a make in a game since Michael Jordan went 0-of-11 in an 87–80 loss against the Miami Heat in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals. However, he finished the game with 22 points on 3-of-20 shooting, 10 assists, six steals, and four rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 104–101 win, putting the series at 3–0. The Rockets went on to lose 4–2 to the Warriors in the conference semifinals. At the season's end, he was unanimously selected to his fifth All-NBA First Team, and he was announced a finalist for the MVP award.
Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall (1.96 m) in shoes and weighing 220 pounds (100 kg), Harden plays mostly at the shooting guard position. With season averages of over 25 points per game since the 2012–13 season, Harden is considered one of the most versatile and dangerous scorers in the NBA. He possesses a wide array of offensive moves; two of the most prominent among them being his Euro step and his step-back jumper. He has also gained notoriety for his ability to exploit league rules in order to more efficiently draw fouls and get to the free throw line, from which he is a career 85.7% shooter. He has led the NBA in free throw attempts and makes every year since the 2014–15 season. He is also the all-time leader in completed four-point plays with 56 completions, passing Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford with his 54. Though primarily a scorer, he is also known for his playmaking ability, orchestrating the Rockets' offense with his elevated assist numbers. During the early portion of the 2016–17 season, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni played Harden at point guard, which resulted in him averaging over 10 assists per game for the first time in his career.
While he has garnered acclaim for his prowess on the offensive end, Harden has built a reputation as a poor defender. Criticism of his defense intensified in early 2014, when a video titled "James Harden: Defensive Juggernaut" featuring eleven minutes worth of clips of Harden conceding field goals, was circulated on the Internet. During the 2014 offseason, he committed to an improvement on defense, which manifested as early as August of that year as a member of the United States men's national basketball team. His improved defense carried over to the following season, and has been cited as a major reason for the Rockets' regular season success. Another negative aspect of his game that is sometimes brought up by pundits are his turnovers. Harden set the NBA record for turnovers during the 2015–16 season and broke it again the following season.
National team career
Harden was a member of the United States national team that won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, and was also a member of the team that won the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014. Harden was a candidate for the 2016 Olympics, but he withdrew from the team.
Harden is the youngest of three children. Before his birth, after that of his older sister, their mother suffered a string of miscarriages.
Harden started growing his trademark beard in 2009 after being too lazy to shave. His beard has appeared in songs and T-shirts, and it earned him an endorsement and a unique candy with Trolli’s where a depiction of his face and beard was shown on each gummy.
On July 18, 2019, Harden became a part owner in Houston's professional soccer teams; the Houston Dynamo of MLS and the Houston Dash of NWSL. Harden explained his decision by saying "Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time" as well as "This is my city and I'm here to stay."
- List of career achievements by James Harden
- List of National Basketball Association career 3-point scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career free throw scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career turnovers leaders
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