Under head coach Mike D’Antoni James Harden is tearing up the NBA. Always a prolific scorer, Harden has taken over the point guard position for the running Rockets and boy is it something to see. Harden’s not only averaging 30 points a game from the point — a la Allen Iverson in his high-scoring “point guard” prime — but he’s leading the NBA in assists. By a lot. Harden is dishing at a rate of 13 assists per game, with the next most effective passer — LeBron James — averaging 9.9.
Harden’s off-the-charts offensive productivity reminds longtime NBA fans of the ferocious offensive force called Nate Archibald, also known as Tiny. Tiny vs. The Beard is one of those great NBA bar room comparisons. The Hall of Famer Archibald was the only player ever to lead the NBA in scoring and assists in the same season. He averaged 34 ppg and 11.4 apg in the 1972-73 campaign for the Boston Celtics. The inspirational Archibald could only be called “Tiny” in a place like the NBA. He stood 6’1″ tall, but became the prototype of the small aggressive NBA guard with court vision — the kind of player that made Iverson possible, and also the kind of player that the new James Harden most resembles. That is, unless you think he resembles Russell Westbrook. Harden could take Archibald’s record away this season, on his way to joining Nate in the Hall of Fame.