Posted September 27, 2013

Rockets’ James Harden: I am ‘for sure’ a top-10 NBA player

Ben Golliver, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Houston Rockets, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden, center, believes he's a top 10 NBA player. (Christian Petersen/ Getty Images Sport)

James Harden (center) believes he’s a Top-10 NBA player. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport)

James Harden has weighed in after he found himself at the center of a social media squabble between Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade, stating unequivocally that he should be considered a top-10 NBA player.

Last week, The Point Forward unveiled our Top 100 players of 2014, a ranking that put Harden at No. 11. Informed of Harden’s placement during an interview with Cinesport.com, the Thunder’s Durant said Tuesday that Harden should have replaced the Heat’s Wade in the list’s top 10. Wade checked in at No. 8.

In a video interview with Comcast Sportsnet Houston, Harden said Thursday that he is without question a top-10 NBA player.

“For sure,” Harden said. “For sure. Last year I got a chance to prove it, I kind of broke out of the shell a little bit. Even though it was my first year [as a starter], I’ve got a lot more to prove. I’ve kind of always been the underdog, always been looked over, so it’s nothing new.”

Durant’s comment provoked an immediate response from Wade, who posted a message to Durant on his Instagram account. Dating the note 9/24/13, Wade wrote: “Kevin Durant said James Harden should replace me in the top 10… Note to self: Make him respect your place in history… again … “

Responding to Wade’s response, Durant wrote on Twitter: “Show me, don’t tweet me.”

Rockets center Dwight Howard, who was No. 7 on the SI.com list, also stood up for his new teammate in an interview on Thursday.

“No doubt,” Howard told CSN Houston, when asked if Harden was a top-10 player. “I think he has the ability to be one of the best shooting guards to ever play the game. He has a lot of talent. He works very hard, and he’s young. He just turned 24 years old. The potential for him is through the roof. I believe in him, me and him can do some special things together.”

There was some speculation as to whether the Durant/Wade exchange was genuine, as the two stars have appeared together in a Gatorade commercial. Wade, Harden and Howard all stated Thursday in separate interviews that they believed it was an authentic exchange of opinions.

“Everyone has their opinion,” Wade said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We’re in the age now where everyone uses their opinion. That was it. He had an opinion. I had a response and there you have it.”

“That’s how KD feels,” Harden told CSN Houston. “We’ve been teammates [on the Thunder] for a couple of years now. Obviously, I was coming off the bench, which was my decision. I didn’t get as much credit or whatnot as much as everyone else, or every other shooting guard in the league. Now, I’m in kind of my own situation, I’m starting to get my own recognition. That’s how KD felt.”

Howard agreed: “I think it’s real, too. What I told James is just to stay away from it. We do our talking on the floor. There’s no need to go back and forth. We’re going to see both of those teams, and when we do, let them know who the best shooting guard in the world is.”

Wade was the top-ranked shooting guard on SI.com’s list, followed by the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (No. 9) and Harden. The full top 10, in order: James, Durant, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Westbrook, Tim Duncan, Howard, Wade, Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

Wade, 31, averaged 21.2 points. 5.1 assists, five rebounds and 1.9 steals and shot 52.1 percent from the field last season. The nine-time All-Star and three-time champion posted a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 24 and 9.6 Win Shares (a metric that uses box score data to estimate the total number of wins a given player contributes) for the Heat, who won their second title in a row.

Harden, 24, averaged 25.9 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals and shot 43.8 percent in his first season with Houston after being traded from Oklahoma City. The four-year veteran had a PER of 23 and 12.8 Win Shares, and was selected to his first All-Star Game.

Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk

16 comments
AghaSajjad
AghaSajjad

Every comment I've read on this comments page is "KD doesn't have 3 things, Wade is better historically blah blah blah" this list was heading into the 2014 season. If you don't think Harden had a better year, and was more efficient for his respective team at such a young age, without a superstar, then you're too stuck in the past to make a valid opinion. Harden > Wade

DAJS6
DAJS6

KD is just jealous that Wade has 3 rings and a Finals MVP and he has nothing.

KEB
KEB

Since when does Dwight care about teammates?

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

Harden is good where he is for now.  Wade has had bad wheels yet is an efficiency machine and still plays defense - and can explode for points at any time.

  On a team loaded with stars, he still throws in 21,5,5 almost - and plays wicked D.  Anyone who knows basketball and not just flashy ESPN highlight reels (Wade has those too) - knows that right now, Wade is the superior overall player.  

Maybe not for long if Harden keeps growing - but for now - its wade by a decent margin

SwayJo
SwayJo

Harden is by far better. He was better than Wade even when he was at okc.... wage is the most over rated player in the nba. As soon as he had a streak of three good games all the analysts start riding his jock "he's back" then he has a couple of sloppy games and everyone starts saying "he must be hurt, his knees have to be hurting"

eddie767
eddie767

I didn't see/hear Howard volunteer to give Harden his spot. Harden might be a top 10 player,but Wade has earned his on the court,not on twitter or fussing. Whenever Harden beats Wade or ppl realize he can lead his team,then he'll be top 10. But,what is wrong with 11th out of 300+? Please stop whining Beard!

GregoryWilliams
GregoryWilliams

I will say this if Oklahoma city had Dwade in the finals they would have won the finals, because last time I checked James avg 12 points and D Wade 22

IronGunz
IronGunz

Harden will never be half the defender Wade is, even on bad knees.

rockersdash
rockersdash

Loving the confidence but dude needs to know his place! Wade has been injured the last 2 years and is still able to be one of the best 2 way players in the game with jaw dropping efficiency. Harden, while he may become the BEST SG in a few years, right now its Wade and Kobe at the 1a and b spot. Harden ca't spell D, showed that he can't come big when it really counts, TO prone and is a streak shooter. 

DAJS6
DAJS6

@KEB Since he was interviewed last Thursday. I don't know if he still does now.

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@SwayJo Wade has been hurting for awhile... but when hes 100% hes one of the better guys at his position for all time


To not recognize that is just insane and inaccurate

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@GregoryWilliams I dont know what Finals you're talking about - other than maybe 3 years ago in the 2011 finals. 

James has been Finals MVP the last 2 years in case you forgot

DAJS6
DAJS6

@AaronDunckel @GregoryWilliams I think he (GregoryWilliams) meant James as in James Harden, not Lebron James.

And don't forget that James Harden did a disappearing act in that 2012 Finals. While Wade even with all his injuries still came up big in the big games. An injured Wade is still better than a healthy Harden.