When I heard that James Harden was going to be the point guard this season, I was not sure what to expect. He had shown the ability in the past to control the ball for minutes at a time, and be the facilitator as well as the primary scorer.
Coming off a 2015-2016 season where we saw him average 29 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game, it was tough to see him improve those numbers while still trying to improve his lack luster defense.
Well, so far, he is having a career season averaging 31 points 13 assists and 7 rebounds per game and is putting up numbers we have not seen since Michael Jordan.
As stated before, James Harden has been the facilitator and primary ball-handler before, it was just when the Rockets thought the offense would be more successful at the point guard position. He routinely ranks among the league’s leaders in usage rate, which is the share of a team’s possessions a player finishes with a field-goal attempt, foul drawn or turnover, and time of possession.
Harden is putting himself in rare category with this stat by the Elias Sports Bureau.
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) November 8, 2016
It is crazy to think that Harden is doing all of this while shooting 50% from the field, 41% from three on 8.4 attempts! Typically, the more plays a player uses, the less efficient a producer of offense he becomes.
Harden is an exception when it comes to that unwritten rule. He is used in 33.7 percent of the Rockets’ possessions, which would be a career-high, causing his true shooting percentage to be 67%. These are numbers comparable to Stephen Curry’s best shooting season. Yes, we are only seven games in thus far, but if this continues, we are looking at one of the best statistical seasons in NBA history.
How can Harden sustain this type of success? Well, it may be something he has to figure out as the season goes on. The reason I say this is that his shooters around him are shooting the ball at a very successful rate. Ryan Anderson is shooting 45% from three this season, while Ariza is shooting 39% from three. They are all feeding off Harden’s success while he is still able to score at will.
So, why are the Rockets only 4-3? They rank 27th out of 30th in defensive efficiency. For now, they have a chance to be in every game, but the defense has to pick up if they want Harden’s seasons to mean anything.