Harden has been the Nets’ best player in the wake of star forward Kevin Durant’s hamstring injury. The Nets are just a half-game back of the Philadelphia 76ers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Paul Pierce Praises James Harden
Harden’s play as of late has NBA Champion and ESPN Analyst Paul Pierce predicting a second league MVP award for Harden.
“James Harden is playing better than anyone in the league right now,” Pierce said via his Twitter account on Wednesday.
“The Beard” has been on a tear since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last month. Since joining the Nets, he is averaging 25.2 points per game.
Harden is also averaging 8.5 rebounds and 11.6 assists while shooting 49.5% from the field and 41.7% from three. All of which are career highs.
Harden Has Shined in Durant’s Absence
Often a player may be having a spectacular season but will not be included in the MVP race because they play with a talented team. This is a lazy narrative and fortunately for Harden’s MVP chances, it can’t be applied to him.
While Durant is still averaging more points than ‘Point Harden’, The 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player is averaging more rebounds, assists, steals, and threes than Durant according to Stat Muse.
The Nets also have a 6-3 record when Harden plays without Durant but on the flip side, the Nets are 5-5 when Durant plays without Harden.
Harden Voted To All-Star Team
Despite Harden’s spectacular season, he was not voted as an All-Star starter this season. He was however voted in as a reserve. The Nets will have a total of three All-Stars this season as he joins his teammates Kyrie Irving and All-Star Captain KD.
Harden spoke to reporters about what being voted in as an All-Star means to him.
“It’s always a blessing, that means you’re doing something right,” Harden told reporters after Tuesday’s win against the Sacramento Kings via SNY.
“That means you’re playing extremely well up to that point and you never want to take opportunities like that for granted so I’m blessed, I’m fortunate to be apart of my ninth All-Star Game.”
The Nets announced that KD will once again be out when the Nets face the Orlando Magic on Thursday. While the Nets’ star has been out for an extended period, Nash does expect him to return soon.
“We’re just trying to monitor and be cautious. Adjusting and stuff. Trying to slow things down, in that respect,” Nash told reporters via Newsday.
“Not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity, and make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back into the team. Monitoring it, and we’re not in a rush, but I don’t think he’ll be out until the All-Star break,” Nash said.
The Nets have four games left until the All-Star break. With Harden playing out of his mind there is no need to rush back KD.