Throughout his NBA career, James Harden has become one of the best players in the league. Harden can score in multiple ways, whether beyond the arc or driving to the lane.
He can dribble his way past any defender, and his step-back lets him create enough space to get a shot off. Before Harden came into the league, he had his success playing college basketball at Arizona State University.
James Harden early years in the NBA
The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Harden with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Harden spent his first three seasons playing for the Thunder, where he primarily came off the bench in a reserve role. The Thunder had a good young team with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Harden. Harden was named to the All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.
Over the next two seasons, Harden’s numbers improved as he was the main player to come off the bench for the Thunder. During the 2011-12 season, the Thunder were one of the best teams in the Western Conference. That season Harden won the Sixth Man of the Year award. He averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.
The Thunder advanced to the 2012 NBA championship and took on the Miami Heat. The Heat defeated the Thunder 4-1, and Harden was third on the team in scoring during the finals, averaging 12.4 points during those five games. At the end of the 2011-12 season, the Thunder attempted to re-sign Harden, but he did not sign with them. He was traded to the Houston Rockets in October of 2012.
James Harden’s career with Houston
When Harden joined the Rockets, his career took off. He became an everyday starter, and his numbers saw a significant improvement. In his first season with Houston, he was named an all-star for the first time in his career. During the 2012-13 season, he averaged 25.9 points per game, and he would not average less than 20 points after that.
Harden took his game to another level in Houston as he quickly became the team’s best player and one of the best players in the game. He also became one of the best scorers in the league. The 2017-18 season was a season that Harden would never forget. He averaged 30.4 points per game, which led the league, and he would go on to win the NBA MVP award.
The next season he led the league in scoring again averaging 36.1 points per game. Since he first came into the league, he worked on his game and went from being a player coming off the bench to one of the best players in the NBA.
Why did James Harden go to Arizona State?
Harden is a native of Los Angeles, California, so it was no surprise that he stayed on the west coast to play college basketball. But what made him choose Arizona State out of all the other schools? When Harden was in high school, he told his head coach, Scott Pera, that if he landed a big-time college job, he would follow him there. Harden did just that.
When Pera was hired as the basketball operations director at Arizona State, Harden knew that was where he was going to go. Harden established a strong relationship with Pera in high school, and that continued when Harden got to the NBA. He spent two years at Arizona State and was a consensus All-American and the Pac-10 Player of the Year his sophomore year. Harden had a choice to go anywhere he wanted, but he kept his word and went to the school where his high school coach landed a job at.