Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is lighting up the league nearly every time he steps on the floor. The guard has become the NBA’s premier scorer. But a future Hall-of-Famer took some of his shine in order to win an award.
Carmelo Anthony’s return to basketball with the Portland Trailblazers has been nothing short of surprising. But we think he’s getting too much hype. Let’s look at both of their weeks leading up to the NBA’s decision to name Melo its Western Conference Player of the Week for December 2, 2019.
Carmelo Anthony’s good, not great numbers
For the week he won the award, Anthony put up solid numbers. He averaged 22 points and seven rebounds per game for three contests. Those are really good numbers for a player who missed almost all of last season, but they aren’t jaw-dropping.
Could this simply be a reaction in the heat of the moment? Let’s look at Harden’s week.
James Harden makes 60 points look easy
The first game of the week for Harden’s Rockets was against the Miami Heat. With Jimmy Butler leading, Miami has been a pleasant surprise in the East this season. They are top-10 in points allowed per game and currently ranked ninth in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
The Rockets only won by 9, but Harden shot 9-23 from the floor to finish with 34 points. He also dished out five assists while pulling down six rebounds.
The next game saw Harden tie Michael Jordan for third all-time for most 60-point games in a career. Both players have four, and we expect Harden to catch Kobe (sitting at No. 2 with six) before the end of 2020. (Don’t expect anyone to catch Wilt Chamberlain, who is at the top with 32.)
Yes, we know the game was against the Hawks (currently 28th in defensive efficiency and points allowed per game). But Harden still shot 16-24 from the field, including 8-14 from three-point range. The Beard was also 20-23 from the line as the Rockets blew out the Hawks by 47.
Did we also forget to mention that Harden did this in three quarters? That makes the stat even more amazing. For the week, he averaged 47 points per game. The award going to Melo is even more disrespectful to Harden when you realize he scored more total points than Anthony during the week in one less game.
Is Harden’s snub a bad look for the NBA?
We aren’t ones to stir up controversy, but we think this could have a lasting effect on how fans view the NBA Player of the Week and Player of the Month awards. If Carmelo averages 20 points for the entire month and Harden averaged 35, will Melo still get the award?
These are questions fans will ask leading up to the end of the month. Harden should have won the award. We think everyone was just a prisoner of the moment — happy to see Melo back on a basketball floor.