EVER since Chris Paul tweaked his hamstring on the 20th of Dec, James Harden has been flat out balling. Last year’s MVP has emerged as the front runner to repeat as the 2018-19 winner following a five-week stretch of scoring dominance. Say what you will about Harden’s style of play, but whether you’re a hater or believer seeing a guard score the rock at a pace we’ve only previously seen from Wilt Chamberlain is god damn impressive.
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45.8 – Percentage of Team Points Scored
THROUGH his torrid tear, Harden has done most of the heavy lifting for Houston, scoring over 45% of their points. Eric Gordon has helped and so had Clint Capela before he got hurt, but Harden’s level of production has been something else. Other stars like Kawhi Leonard (35.5%), Joel Embiid (35.4%) and Blake Griffin (35.1%) have done a lot for their teams over the same five-week span, but no one is really close to Harden.
12 – Wins
NOT only has Harden pushed his MVP candidacy into relevance, he has virtually saved the Rockets’ season. With a 12-5 mark, while Paul has been out, Houston has tied for the 3rd most wins during that stretch, turning the Rockets from a team one game over .500 into a top-4 seed out West. This number might not seem super impressive, but with W’s against the likes of Toronto, Denver, Boston, OKC and Golden State on the road, Harden has definitely steadied the ship.
16.8 – 3-Point Attempts Per Game
ONLY five times in NBA history has a player attempted more than 10 three’s a game with James Harden and Steph Curry owning all five such seasons. While the league adopting a three-point happy style of play has helped, Harden’s 16.8 three-point attempts during his streak is something else. He now is shooting 13.8 attempts from behind the arc for the entire season, which is more than half of the attempts that six teams including the Spurs, Cavaliers and Pacers average.
32 – Lowest Point Total
DURING the 17 games CP3 has been out for Harden has led the league in scoring, impressively dropping over 30 points in every contest with 32 his lowest point total coming against Denver. He is currently riding a 23-game streak with 30+ points, with Wilt Chamberlain the only player to maintain such a streak for over 25 games. If Harden tops 30 points against NOLA and Denver in his next two outings he can add his name to the list.
43.7 – Usage Percentage
ONE of the craziest numbers from Harden’s hot streak is his usage rate of 43.7%. In NBA history only Russell Westbrook in his MVP season of ’16-’17 owns a usage rate in the 40’s and Harden could become the second player to join the group if he keeps demanding the rock. Chris Paul’s return has taken him back down to 39.1% for the season, but there’s no reason why James won’t continue to dominate the ball.
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3 – 55+ Point Games
THREE times incredibly in his last seven games James Harden has scored over 55 points, giving him six such games for his career. Throughout the entire NBA season, only two players Kemba Walker (60) and LaMarcus Aldridge (56) have topped 55 points and Harden owns five of the nine 55+ point games spanning over the last two years. No one else has more than one.
247 – Free Throws Attempted
SHOOTING 14.5 free throws per game in the last 17 games has seen Harden chalk up 247 free throw attempts (FTA), over 100 more than the next closest player. If he maintained that many FTA each night over the whole season, it would be the second highest average in history, only bested by Wilt Chamberlain’s 17.0 shots in ’61-’62. Harden’s season average has now been upped to 11.9 good for the 16th highest in NBA history, with ’00-’01 Shaq the only player with a higher average in the 21st century (13.1 FTA).
91.9 – Percentage of Field Goals Made (Unassisted)
IT’S pretty unreal to consider that over 90% of Harden’s 742 points scored in this span have come unassisted, but it’s not that improbable. Excelling in isolation situations has seen Harden be the only player above 90%, with Jamal Crawford the next closest recognisable name at 80.8%. For the season 88.5% of his baskets have come in unassisted situations, so don’t expect this number to drop with a healthy CP3 in the lineup.
61 – Career High Points Scored
JAMES Harden made MSG his playground last Wednesday, scoring a career-best 61 points in Houston’s narrow win. His box score could have been much more impressive with the Bearded One shooting just 5-20 from behind the arc. If there is anyone who can challenge Wilt’s 100 or even Kobe’s 81 in a game, then this streaking Harden stands a chance.
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