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Naidu: Fear the beard

James Harden wants you to know. He’s damn good.

Often times, once a NBA player has reached his 6th or 7th season, his reputation is fully-formed. Rotation player, starter, all-star, elite (top 10-12), and super elite (top 5). The super elite class is the hardest to break into. In recent years, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant have firmly held places in the super elite class, with Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Harden hovering around the final two spots. For years Harden has been categorized as an elite player, winning an MVP last year. However, multiple playoff failures despite stellar regular seasons dominate Harden’s reputation.

Rosas: A look back at the 2011 Thunder

Amid controversy surrounding the lack of fluidity between newly acquired superstar forward Kevin Durant and franchise legend Steph Curry, the Slim Reaper hosted to his prior franchise home, the Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite valiant effort and yet another Westbrook triple-double, the overmatched Thunder fell by the wayside in Oakland, falling victim to yet another Warriors blowout, 121-100.

Rosas: Jazz can find their rhythm, but Northwest is Thunder’s to lose

Three years ago, the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors, edged out the Memphis Grizzlies by one win to capture the last spot in the NBA playoffs, at a total of 51 wins. Now, the once deep western conference faces a downshift in competition, with the likes of the Thunder and the Spurs, a combined 122 wins between the two, definitely loosening the concentrations of victories to a number of up and coming franchises.