MVP Race: James Harden's shooting struggles create opening for others

MVP Race: James Harden's shooting struggles create opening for others

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MVP Race: James Harden's shooting struggles create opening for others

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1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

STATS: 36.2 ppg, 7.6 apg, 6.6 rpg, 2.1 spg, 4.9 3PTs, 43.8 FG%

After 32 consecutive games with at least 30 points, James Harden’s streak finally came to an end this week. Harden’s 30-point streak goes down as the second-longest in NBA history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain (who had 30 points in 65 straight games in 1961-62).

What Harden has been able to do since mid-December is remarkable, putting the Rockets on his back and helping them climb from second-to-last in the West to the fifth seed. Houston’s turnaround started 34 games ago; during that span, Harden has averaged 40.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 5.4 threes and 2.2 steals per game.

With that said, it’s worth noting that Harden has been shooting the ball very poorly as of late. Over his last six games, he’s shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three-point range. Here are some of his recent shooting performances:

  • 11-of-28 from the field (and 6-of-16 from three) in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder
  • 9-of-23 from the field (and 6-of-17 from three) in a win over the Dallas Mavericks
  • 7-of-21 from the field (and 0-of-10 from three) in a win over the Atlanta Hawks
  • 10-of-29 from the field (and 1-of-11 from three) in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

If Harden can’t bounce out of this recent shooting slump, that will create an opening for Giannis Antetokounmpo or Paul George to pass him during the final stretch of the MVP race.

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