By statistical standards, James Harden had an excellent season.
The Houston Rockets shooting guard averaged 29.0 points, 7.5 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game this past season. However, not only did Harden not get named to the All-NBA first or second teams, he wasn't selected at all.
It marks the only time in NBA history that a player who averaged at least a 27/7/6 stat line didn't get selected to one of the three All-NBA teams.
“That's something I've been thinking about,” Harden said. “It wasn't a good year. I guess the media was looking at it like the Rockets are coming off the Western Conference Finals and fighting for the eighth seed. We're still in the playoffs. With all the things that happened this year, all the negativity, we still had an opportunity to make the playoffs.”
While Harden explained why he thought he was snubbed out of an All-NBA selection, he didn't stop there. He stressed that it will only provide him with more motivation entering the 2016-17 season:
“That's extra motivation for me to come back and be a better basketball player overall. I'm not down on myself. I know what I bring to the table. That's another reason why I'm more excited about what we have next year as far as coaching plans and players we have coming in. More motivation for me. I want to get back in the gym, better myself and everything will work itself out.”
It's understandable how Harden failed to crack the All-NBA first team as Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook were the picks at the guard positions. However, when Chris Paul, Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry are all selected ahead of Harden, it starts to get a bit ridiculous considering all three don't have stat lines comparable to the Rockets guard.
As Harden explains, there is no logical explanation other than the fact that Houston had a really disappointing year. Just one season ago, they were in the Western Conference Finals. Fast forward a year later and they barely cracked the playoffs.
Having said that, this is not the MVP award. All-NBA selections have always been based on individual performance. For some odd reason, voters leaned towards players of winning teams as their selections, rather than individual statistical output.
The 26-year-old Harden should have plenty of motivation as he looks to lead the Rockets back into championship contention next season.
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