Following LeBron James’ scoring explosion of 57 points on Friday, James Harden did not waste time, and fired 56 points of his own just two nights after. When asked if he was trying to match the production of not just The King, but other superstars in the league as well, the Houston Rockets guard made it clear that’s not the case, and that he is also motivated to play well by other players, including some of this season’s rookies.
The Beard named Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons as some of the first year players who have caught his attention with their impressive games. With the Rockets having already played against the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers this year, Harden had the chance to see first hand how good Mitchell and Simmons were. He then admitted, via ESPN, that these young players have inspired him to give his best and continue to play at an elite level.
Harden has been true to his word, and is once again off to a solid start for the Rockets. He is averaging stellar numbers of 29.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 35.5 minutes per game. More importantly, his team is currently tied for the best record in the Western Conference with an 8-3 win-loss slate, and have found a way to continue winning despite the absence of Chris Paul who is recovering from a knee injury.
With his comments, it goes to show that the five-time All-Star is not shy to give credit when it is due, and that he also knows how to appreciate other players, even if they are rookies. Instead of seeing them as threats to superstars like him, he uses their promising play as a challenge to further improve on his game, and prove to them that he is still one of the best players in the league today.