NBA Basketball 2012: Houston Rockets' James Harden Is an Early MVP Candidate

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIINovember 2, 2012

Nov 2, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) reacts to scoring in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The Rockets won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

After just a few days into the 2012-13 NBA season, one player has stood out above the rest.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets has racked up 82 points in the first two games, including a career-high 45 points on Friday night in a 109-102 victory against the Atlanta Hawks.

Harden, who was traded at the end of October by the Oklahoma City Thunder, recently signed an $80 million contract with the Rockets.

Sure, it's early in the season, but it's not too soon to talk about an MVP candidate.

Through two games, Harden has shown that he is a legitimate starter and has the talent to be considered a star in the league. After putting up 37 points and dishing out 12 assists on October 31st against the Detroit Pistons, he impressed again in Houston's second game against the Hawks.

The Rockets are off to a 2-0 start and look to be legitimate playoff contenders in the Western Conference. Aside from Harden, the Rockets also landed Jeremy Lin in the offseason to play point guard.

Together, the two seem to make up an unstoppable backcourt.

Harden was usually looked at as a solid role player in Oklahoma City, but is now making the most of his opportunity to be an everyday starter and a big piece of the Houston offense.

What makes Harden valuable is the fact that he is not one-dimensional. The fourth-year man out of Arizona State pulled down six rebounds to go with his 37 points and 12 assists in the season opener. Against the Hawks in Game 2, he grabbed seven rebounds to go with the 45 points.

Undoubtedly, Harden is going to have some bad games throughout the course of this season, however, he has already shown the ability to put up huge numbers—something that should help keep his name near the top of the MVP list.

He will look to keep his streak of monster games going when the Rockets host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, November 3rd.