When you think of the top scorers ever, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan all make the list. A few weekends ago, however, Houston Rockets star James Harden did something that puts him in the same company as those NBA stars.
Fans dismiss Harden as one of the game’s elite players for plenty of reasons. But he is still putting up huge numbers at a dizzying pace. In fact, “The Beard” may surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest in one of the NBA’s lesser-known scoring statistics.
James Harden ties Michael Jordan
When Harden put up 60 points against the Hawks on November 30, 2019, he tied Michael Jordan for third all-time on the list of career 60-point games. He and Jordan each have four. So when you see a player match Jordan in an offensive statistic, you must give credit where credit is due.
Harden didn’t reach his career-high of 61 points, but it was still an amazing display of his offensive skill set. He had his patented step-back and also attacked the Hawks’ front line that was missing depth up front due to John Collins’ suspension.
The Hawks are the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference and one of the worst defenses in the league. The team is ranked third to last in defensive efficiency and points per game allowed (118).
Can Harden catch Kobe Bryant?
Kobe Bryant sits at No. 2 on the list with six 60-point games during his career. His most memorable display of scoring 60-plus points was when he had the second-highest scoring game by a player in NBA history, dropping 81 on the Toronto Raptors.
That game was vintage Kobe. He wasn’t on the floor jawing at the Raptors (this is when the game still allowed for hard fouls). And he seemed to do most of his damage from the midrange area and in the paint.
With Russell Westbrook in the backcourt — who has three consecutive seasons averaging a triple-double — it may be harder for Harden to get more opportunities to put up points at this rate.
The two do have amazing chemistry on the court. But even with Westbrook being a ball-dominant player Harden should catch Kobe by the end of the 2020-21 season.
Will any NBA players catch Wilt Chamberlain?
When you average over 50 points in one season, chances are you had several opportunities to put up 60-point games. This is precisely what Chamberlain did during his third season.
For his career, the center had 32 60-point games. He’s still considered one of the game’s most physically imposing players to ever step on a court. Chamberlain also holds the NBA record for most points in a single game, scoring 100 in a contest against the Knicks.
We don’t think a player will ever catch up with him — unless we see a team built so poorly around one superstar that they simply have to carry the load for five to 10 years by themselves.
How do you feel about Harden’s accomplishment?
Are you excited about the prospect of Harden surpassing Jordan on the list of most career 60-point games? The Beard is currently averaging 38 points per game for the Rockets. If he stays at this pace, he’ll end up with the fourth-highest total in league history.