Is James Harden The Peyton Manning of The NBA? by Chris Allen
Harden doesn’t have the same success in the regular season as he does in the postseason. Harden’s situation is very similar to Peyton Manning’s NFL career.
James Harden is one of the best combo guards in the NBA. He was once only thought of as a six-man coming off the bench, only to become a 9-time All-Star, 3-time scoring champion, and 2018 MVP. Harden puts up elite numbers with the ability to lead the league in assists or points every season. However, he doesn’t have the same success in the regular season as he does in the postseason. Harden’s situation is very similar to Peyton Manning’s NFL career.
Manning was able to get over the hump and win a championship towards the back end of his career; for the longest, Manning was known as a “Stat-Sheet-Stuffer” for putting up crazy regular-season numbers with poor performances in the NFL postseason. Granted, he did have to compete in the AFC against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Dynasty multiple times in the postseason.
You could blame Harden’s lack of success on the amount of greatness that’s been his competition for almost over a decade with the reign of dominance by LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Harden in the postseason has 72 wins and 65 losses. You would think that a player of his caliber would have a more significant split in wins and losses. Historically, Harden shoots 44% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. However, in the playoffs, his percentages drop slightly to 42% from the field and 32% from deep.
Since 2013 Harden has at least three games in every series where he’s shot at or less than 30% from deep. Through a six-game span of only elimination games, Harden has averaged 23 points per game, shooting 38% from the field, and 23% from the three.
For the longest, TPJ of Hoops and Brews has called Harden “Small game James.” Good enough to win a game but not great enough to win a series. If it’s a not-so-serious game, he can drop 50 points. But, when the season is on the line, he might not get you 25 points. With this information, everyone will be forced to asses is Harden worth $41 million a year to give you 25 points a game? Don’t get me wrong; Harden is box office talent, but I would have my concerns when it’s a playoff elimination game from a historical standpoint.