BIG PLAYS

Kobe Bryant claims James Harden’s style of play won’t lead to long-term success

James Harden is having one of the greatest scoring seasons in NBA History, but according to Kobe Bryant, he has serious doubts on whether it’s sustainable. During an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Bryant stated the following when asked about Harden’s incredible scoring streak of 27 games with 30 or more points.

“So there’s a style of play in which he’s using, which I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships. I don’t think that style’s ever gonna win championships”

You could argue there is no one more qualified on the subject than Bryant. Even if it comes off somewhat hypocritical considering he had several different seasons with the LA Lakers with similar high-scoring numbers but limited team success. But maybe Bryant is speaking from experience in regard to the fact that its nearly impossible to carry a team on your back like Harden has for an entire season and still contend for an NBA title.

Bryant did go on to credit Harden for an amazing season and went as far as to call it “remarkable”.

 

These all do sounds like valid points that Bryant is making. It is nearly impossible to sustain this level of success for nearly an entire season and a playoff run. But the Rockets have needed Harden to play this way just to remain in the hunt among a loaded Western Conference field. With Chris Paul and Clint Capela both missing significant time with injuries, if Harden hadn’t stepped up his game to historic levels over the past two months, then the Rockets might be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Instead, they are comfortably sitting in the fifth seed.

Harden’s play has drawn criticism in the past for his reinvention of the traveling rule and ability to draw fouls at will. While it’s fair to say that the step back three isn’t a travel (most of the time). It is fair to argue that these ticky-tack fouls that have gone in his favor all season will not be there come the playoffs. For a guy that averages a league-high 11.8 free throw attempts per game that could certainly become an issue.

All these criticisms of Harden have seemed to draw away from exactly how great and unbelievable this season has been for him. If LeBron James were averaging 36.5 points per game, NBA Twitter would ignite into flames and it would be the top story on every sports talk show on a daily basis. I mean the guy is literally illegally tampering to try and force another player to his team and its bigger news than what Harden is doing.

I have my doubts that Harden will be able to continue this play into the playoffs. Recent history has shown he will burn out at some point. But I’m okay with that. We need to all sit back and realize exactly what we are seeing. Harden could very possibly surpass Michael Jordan’s 37.09 ppg and then would only sit behind Wilt Chamberlain’s plethora of 38-50 ppg seasons that were played against guys a foot shorter than him.

Love him or hate him, no one will remember how he scored all those points ten years from now. All that will remain is possibly the most impressive offensive season we’ve ever seen.

 

P.S. Harden has his own thoughts on Kobe’s comments

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