Count Russell Westbrook among those who are in awe over what teammate James Harden is doing to start this NBA season.
Harden is leading the league in scoring through 14 games averaging a whopping 39.2 points per game. He’s also averaging 7.6 assists per game and has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 31.59, second in the league.
Harden is a polarizing player due to his propensity to draw foul calls. But Westbrook sees greatness and thinks people are normalizing it.
"I think that a lot of people like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again, but it's not normal because there's nobody else that can do it," said Westbrook via ESPN. "If it was normal, everybody would do it.”
There’s some truth there for sure.
Harden’s greatness is at times downgraded due to his aforementioned style of play, but also in part because he hasn’t quite found a way to keep up his regular season success in the playoffs.
Though the idea of Harden as a massive playoff “choker” is a bit overstated.
If you hear him tell it, Harden says he doesn’t care about the gaudy stats. He just wants to do whatever it takes for the team to win.
"I don't care about that. I just want to win games," said Harden. "Tonight, just shooting my shots. Last game, I took 41 shots, but we had six guys on the injured reserve list. So it's whatever it takes to win at this point. That's what I go out there and do every single night."
Regardless, Harden’s offensive exploits are historic.
The amount he scores with the level of efficiency is all-time. Last season, he became the first player in NBA history to average at least 35 points per game with a true shooting percentage (61.6%) better than 60%.
His coach, Mike D’Antoni, is at a loss for words.
"It's unbelievable. I'm at a loss for words," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "What he does, you can't do that. I've never seen it.
On pure production alone, Harden could end up as the second-best shooting guard of all-time. No worse than third.
But in #NBATwitter land and “rings culture,” he’s going to need some of the hardware that the three greatest shooting guards of all-time possess in bunches.
(Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images)