James Harden will win this season's MVP for the first time in his career and he showed why with a stunning performance in game one of the Houston Rockets' first-round series with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Western Conference's top seed didn't produce their best game but their superstar once again carried them on his back as he poured in 44 points in a narrow 104-101 win.
25 of his points came in the final 18 minutes as he took over late in the game.
The shooting guard was unstoppable offensively and illustrated why he was the leading scorer in the regular season.
Harden averaged 30.4 points along with 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game as he inspired the Rockets to the best record in the league at 65-17.
His outstanding display in game one prompted an interesting debate between TNT analysts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith.
On an episode of Inside the NBA, Barkley asked his colleagues: “Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, George “Iceman” Gervin, Kevin Durant and James Harden, who is the best individual scorer out of those guys?”
Both O'Neal and Smith wasted no time in going with Bryant but Barkley disagreed and went with Harden.
“I don’t know, man,” Barkley responded. “…James Harden, to me, might be the most unguardable player I’ve ever seen.”
This is a huge claim by the Hall of Famer considering that the likes of MJ and Kobe have done it on the biggest stage and won multiple championships.
'The Beard' is yet to really stamp his mark in the playoffs and crumbled under the pressure against the San Antonio Spurs last year.
Therefore, it's difficult to put him in the same category as the aforementioned greats who did it consistently at the highest level.
But there's no doubt that the 28-year-old may be the most unguardable player in the league today.
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau practically alluded to this after their loss as he felt they did everything they could possibly do to stop him.
“There were several plays in which I thought we defended well and he made,” Thibodeau said, per USA Today. “James is that type of player. We’ve seen it all year. Very difficult to guard.
"Basically, you have to guard him with your whole team. It’s not just his scoring, but his playmaking. All the things that he does.”
Harden and the Rockets have their sights on winning the championship this year and they certainly will take some stopping if the All-Star continues to produce at this level.