(via Washington Post)

In the midst of his third-straight 30-point-per-game season, James Harden is clearly one of the NBA’s best scorers. Behind his play and leadership, the Rockets have become a force to be reckoned with in the West.

But, according to ESPN’s Max Kellerman, he isn’t a top 5 player in the league today.

Max makes a simple case by putting LeBron, Durant, Kawhi, Giannis, and Steph above Harden — and then asks who Stephen A. would take out for the Beard.

With the exception of Steph, those players are all exceptional two-way stars. As for Steph, he’s a 2x MVP, 3x Champion, and the best shooter in league history.

James is certainly at the top when it comes to scoring, but his playoff track record, streaky shooting, and defensive lapses are often a major source of criticism for Harden and why, in Max’s list, he’s got him outside the top five.

Still, the former MVP is averaging 34 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game on 43% shooting. He’s an 8x All-Star, 2x scoring champ, 6x All-NBA player, and 2017-18 NBA MVP. No matter your opinions on James, he’s clearly one of the top players in the league and deserves to be treated as such.

As for where, exactly, he belongs on today’s best players list, that’s a matter you’ll have to determine for yourself.