If you throw in his beard, he sure is.
The southern California native is largely unheralded, overshadowed by the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In just over 31 minutes per game this season, Harden posted 16.8 points per game on only 10 shot attempts per game, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 21.13. He’s efficient alright: he had the 30th best PER in the game, outperforming superstars Steve Nash, Deron Williams, and Pau Gasol among others. And the bearded assassin is only 22.
To put money in perspective, Williams earned $16 million last year and Gasol earned nearly $19 million. With his prime athletic years ahead of him, it would seem as if Harden is worth at least $10 million, especially for a team that can bear to play him more than 30 mpg. He may not possess the prized court vision of Williams or the insurmountable height of Gasol, but Harden’s scoring is certainly a valuable asset.
The Thunder would be wise to extend his contract. The former Arizona State Sun Devil provides a valuable scoring punch off the bench that they sorely need; he’s the only double-digit scorer on the roster other than Durant and Westbrook. His ability to come off screens well, with or without the ball, is one of the best in the league. If he’s not extended by Oklahoma City, expect Harden to see big bucks on the market this offseason.