Harden was selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He recorded the fourth highest 3-point percentage in NBA history (. 375) for a player under the age of 21 (min. of 150 attempts) during the 2009–10 season. He connected on seven straight 3-point field goals over two games (November 18 and 20), recording the most consecutive 3-point makes by a rookie since Houston guard Michael Dickerson made eight straight in May 1999. He posted a season-high 26 points against the Golden State Warriors on December 7, 2009. He was subsequently named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. During the 2010–11 season, he scored 10-plus points on 54 occasions, including a season-high 26 points against the Phoenix Suns on March 6, 2011. Harden averaged 16. 8 points, 4. 1 rebounds and 3. 7 assists in 62 games (two starts) during the lockout-shortened 2011–12 season, as he received the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. He scored in double-figures in all but four of his appearances during the season. He scored a season-high 40 points against Phoenix on April 18, 2012, becoming the first NBA player in a reserve role to score 40 points since Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois in March 2010. Harden helped the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals, where they were defeated in five games by the Miami Heat.
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