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James Harden determined to be best player every night ‘no matter who’s on the court’

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden has progressively improved his play over the last couple of years that has earned him the reputation as being one of the top players in the league and a perennial MVP candidate.

All of this has pushed Harden to take a sterner mental approach to the game whenever he steps on the court, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The 28-year-old’s performance has certainly backed up that mindset as he currently ranks third in the league with 29.5 points per game while also holding the same spot in assists with 9.7 per contest through the first couple of weeks of this season.

Harden has been on an offensive tear in the first 11 games as he has scored at least 20 points in each outing while notching five double-doubles, a triple-double and capped off with a career-high 56 points against the Utah Jazz on Sunday night. In fact, the 56-point performance helped him join Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to have 50-plus assist and 10-plus assists while shooting 75 percent or better from the field.

Since switching over to playing the point guard position, Harden has elevated his game to another level as his ability as a dual-threat playmaker as both a premier scorer and passer has made him that much more difficult to defend on a nightly basis. Although there is the pending return of All-Star point guard Chris Paul, he should remain a highly effective scorer and distributor that could be in store for his first MVP award this season.

This singular approach mentally could continue to help lift Harden to greater heights in his career as he plays through his physical prime over the next several seasons.