Jay C. Brandriet
Can someone that reaches legend status have “things to prove” still?
Of course. The players themselves think so.
Even when established as something special, there is nothing wrong with getting the most out of yourself.
WHICH NBA LEGEND HAS THE MOST TO PROVE?
Giannis? Not quite. He’s on the megastar hot seat. He needs to improve a ton from mid range. He needs to overcome tough playoff situations where he has to do more with less. It’s time for Antetokounmpo to win a conference title.
Kawai Leonard? No. While it’s true he and his Clippers melted down in the bubble, his place in history is pretty stable. His efforts in Toronto created a strong foundation. He may have things to prove still, just not the most to prove.
Steph Curry? That’s a reach. For a top 20 player of all time type, Steph could pile on a bit still. His success includes five trips to the Finals, and three rings. He’s played very well overall in June, but a little less well than what I’ve expected.
I think the answer is James Harden.
Some might ask is Harden even a legend?
James has been a league MVP, and a three time runner up.
He’s an 8 time All-Star, who has a few scoring titles to his name.
Harden is a consistent playmaker. He led the NBA in assists in 2017.
His step back three is sick.
James is consuming. He’s like a deep shooting Iverson.
He attacks with a fine handle, strength, and balance.
Harden flows in a unique, herky jerky way. Many perceive the way he draws contact and gets to the foul line as “pushing the rules to the edge.”
His scoring productivity is often tied to the names Chamberlain and Jordan.
Legend? Close enough.
As a youngster he went to the Finals with OKC, but performed poorly.
He helped put a scare in the Warriors a couple of years ago.
Harden has been criticized for “running out of gas” late in seasons. He’s often been mocked for not being the most threatening defender.
In last years second round loss to the Lakers, James had good stats. As an observer, I just didn’t really feel him out there.
As Harden enters his 12th season, it’s the last lap of his prime. Wherever he resides, this guy needs to win big. If his teams fall short, his impact has to be tall.
FOR HIS LEVEL, he needs to do more.
Will James Harden’s legacy be even greater in five years?
I feel like that can happen.
I’m not overly confident, but I’d 60/40 bet on “The Beard.”
Jay C. Brandriet