Ask someone who doesn't watch a lot of basketball to name a player, and they'll probably mention LeBron James. Maybe they'll name a Warriors player, like Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. They're all elite players. But none of them are the NBA's reigning MVP winner.
That MVP winner would actually be James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who has developed into one of the game's best players over the past decade. One of the league's most reliable point scorers and consistently up there in assists per game, Harden's style of playing has made him a star. And his recognizable beard has helped make him one of the more notable players too.
Harden has steadily improved for nearly his entire career, standing now as one of the league's finest. How much is he worth?
James Harden's Net Worth
Net worth estimates can be spurious, but it has been estimated that in his career James Harden could be worth as much as $145 million, at least according to Celebrity Net Worth.
That number isn't set in stone, but if it is even remotely close to it it's a remarkable feat for someone who only recently started his 10th season in the NBA. But as the reigning MVP he has developed into one of the most public faces for the sport.
James Harden's Career
An impressive high school career in his home state of California, Harden went to college at Arizona State, where he blossomed from an interesting prospect into one of the best in the country.
James Harden at Arizona State
Harden's Wildcats team failed to make the NCAA tournament in his freshman year, but with the help of his strong season the team dramatically surpassed expectations, finishing fifth in the Pac 10 Conference and nearly making it to the tournament. Harden averaged nearly 18 points per game, and with this season established himself as a player to watch in the 2008-09 season.
He lived up to the hype. The 2008-09 season saw Harden increase his points per game (up past 20), assists per game and rebounds per game. His sophomore Arizona State team improved along with him, and made their way to the NCAA tournament, the sixth-ranked team in the South Regional bracket. After a victory in the first round against No. 11 Temple, they fell in the next round to No. 3 Syracuse.
This leap in quality play led Harden to decide he was ready, and announced that instead of returning for his junior year he would declare for the NBA Draft.
James Harden and the Thunder
Seen as something of a can't-miss prospect, James Harden was drafted third overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, joining a young team that had other future superstars like the aforementioned Durant and Russell Westbrook. Soon after, he signed his first contract: two years for $4.76 million, with options for a third and fourth year.
Harden's rookie year showed promise in a limited role; he appeared in 76 games without starting any and averaged 9.9 points per game, with a particular knack for 3-pointers. Part of this impressive young core, the Thunder made the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, falling to the Lakers in six games.
Harden impressed enough that as his second season approached, the Thunder picked up the option for a third year on his contract. He improved in his sophomore season, appearing in every game of the season and averaging over 12 points a game as the Thunder made the playoffs again, this time making it to the Western Conference Finals where they fell to the Mavericks in five games.
In a shortened 2011-12 season, Harden emerged as the best bench player in the NBA, winning the league's Sixth Man of the Year award and upping his points per game to 16.8. By now, he was on the court over 30 minutes a game, an integral part of a team that this time won the Western Conference Finals and made it to the NBA Finals. Though an impressive team, they were no match for the Miami Heat, who defeated them handily in five.
Harden was now a key member of an elite team, and the team had long since picked up his fourth-year option. But contract negotiations with Oklahoma City stalled as Harden rejected an extension offer.
James Harden and the Rockets
In October of 2012, after Harden and the Thunder could not reach an agreement, Oklahoma City traded Harden to the Houston Rockets as the centerpiece of a trade package that netted the Thunder two first round draft picks. Just days after the trade, the Rockets announced they had extended Harden's contract for five years and nearly $80 million.
Harden not only got the contract he wanted, but he got it on a team where he had the opportunity to start. He blossomed in a starting role, starting 78 games for Houston and averaging 25.9 points per game and scoring over 2,000 points overall. He made his first of six (so far) NBA All-Star Game appearances, and led the Rockets to their first playoff appearance in four years. As the No. 8 seed, they would fall to Harden's old team, the Thunder, in six games. Not for lack of effort on Harden's part; he averaged over 26 points per game in those playoffs.
In his second season with the Rockets, Harden made his first of four All-NBA First Teams after a similar statistical season, but once again the team lost in the first round, this time to the Trail Blazers. 2014-15, though, saw a major step forward. Harden averaged over 27 points a game in 81 starts, finishing second in MVP voting to Steph Curry. Fittingly, Curry was that team's undoing, as the Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals and fell to Curry's Warriors.
The Rockets were now a perennial player in the Western Conference playoff race, thanks to Harden and his continuing improvements. For the 2015-16 season, Harden increased in PPG to 29. Without that strong play, it's hard to imagine that Rockets team, who snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed before losing again to the Warriors, reaching the playoffs.
As the figurehead (and clear best player) of the Rockets, Houston made extending him a priority and gave him a mammoth deal: four years, $118 million. He rewarded them for this in 2016-17 with another 29 PPG season, and was now averaging over three 3-pointers a game. Harden made his fifth straight All-Star Game and propelled the Rockets back up to the third seed in the West, where they made it past the first round but fell to the Spurs in six games in the second round.
Impressed, the Rockets signed Harden to a massive extension just a year after signing him to a previous extension. This one was worth $169 million over four years, keeping him in Houston through the 2022-23 season. And once again, Harden turned an extension into an incredible season. He averaged 30.4 points per game in 2017-18, including 3.7 3-pointers per game. He led the Rockets to an unlikely No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and ran away with the MVP vote.
He did not, however, run away with the championship. A rough Game 7 for the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals led to a series loss to the Warriors.
James Harden's Contract: How Much Does He Have Left?
According to Spotrac, Harden will be making over $30 million in cash earnings for his current season. That would put his career earnings at the end of the season at over $147 million.
The extensions he has signed mean he is under contract for four years after that with Houston. In those next four years he is set to make over $37 million, $40 million, $43 million and $46 million, respectively. Those four years would more than double his earnings, putting them at over $316 million.
James Harden's Endorsements and Commercials
It helps to have the reigning MVP of one of the most popular professional sports leagues in America representing you. As a result, Harden currently has enough endorsement deals that Forbes estimates that he makes over $18 million a year from endorsements alone.
His most notable endorsement deal is likely with Adidas, (ADDYY) with a signature line of sneakers similar to Kevin Durant on his Nike (NKE) deal and Steph Curry on his Under Armour (UAA) deal. Other companies James Harden has had sponsorship deals with include: