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Thunder Insider: Keep the faith in James Harden

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: February 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm •  Published: February 13, 2011

Harden has been unheralded in that sense, overlooked for the mature manner in which he's handled what would be a difficult position for many top three picks.

It's become easy for some to look back on the 2009 draft and conclude the Thunder would be better off with a player like Curry or Evans. But the truth is Harden's ability to accept his role alongside All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is more valuable to the Thunder than the addition of another stat stuffer could have been.

And really, we don't know yet whether Harden is capable of scoring 20 points a night. But Harden has proved he can be a key contributor on a winning team. While Curry and Evans are putting up great numbers on two of the worst four teams in the Western Conference, Harden continues to chip in however and whenever possible as the Sixth Man on a 50-win team that is a top four seed in the conference.

Consider this for comparison purposes. Evans is averaging 18.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He's shooting 17 times a game and playing close to 38 minutes a night.

Curry is averaging 18.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. He's shooting 14 times a night and playing 34 minutes per game.

Harden is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and two assists. He's shooting seven times a game and playing just 26 minutes a night.

Friday night might not be easy on Harden's ego. But he has nothing to be ashamed of.