NBA: 30 greatest playmakers in NBA history

(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

10. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder/Houston Rockets

Love him or hate him, Houston Rockets guard James Harden’s ability to score and make plays off the dribble is hard to deny. Harden has made a career out of making big shots and getting to the free throw line since joining the Rockets, something that didn’t happen right away when he entered the league.

Harden played the third option with the Oklahoma City Thunder in his early days from 2010 to 2012, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2011-12 season. He produced 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, while shooting 39 percent from behind the arc.

A trade to Houston catapulted him into a first option. Since then, he’s enjoyed an All-Star status of his own as the best player on the Rockets.

Since joining the Rockets in 2012-13, Harden has put up 28.2 points, 7.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range. He’s won the league’s scoring title this past season and led the league in assists per game (11.2) during the 2016-17 campaign.

He won the league’s MVP award in 2017-18, while leading the NBA in scoring (30.4 PPG) to go along with 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. He put up 11 40-point games in 59 wins and 13 losses for the Rockets during that campaign.

Harden recorded four triple-doubles alongside point guard Chris Paul in the backcourt, showing off his dynamic abilities. He’ll go down as one of the best scorers in league history, but he’s also a playmaker that continues to improve.