Harden Week: Piling Stats Upon Stats
Welcome to Harden Week, a celebration of all things James Harden!
Kyle Soppe is a regular contributor to Hickory-High, specializing in the identification of unique numeric accomplishments. You can find more from him at Hardwood Paroxysm and on Twitter, @unSOPable23.
- James Harden made 10+ free throws six times in a 12-day stretch in late December. Kobe Bryant did so six times from December 9th to March 21st. It is worth noting that Kobe Bryant ranks third all time in free throws made.
- I’m not going to argue that James Harden is the best player in the league or even the most valuable player in the league, but if there was an award for the most valuable scorer, Harden would be the runaway winner. Below is a chart that documents the winning percentage of each team when their star player scores a certain amount of points.
If you look at the data, James Harden is the only player to have a direct relationship between points scored and team success. The Rockets probability of winning is tied to the scoring output of The Beard, making his ability to put points on the board as “valuable” as any elite scorer in the NBA.
- In the Rockets final game of the month, Harden is shooting 24/64 (37.5%) from the field with at least as many turnovers as assists in three of those four games. The Rockets have been predictability bad in such games, winning just once.
- The average stat line in games that featured at least one Harden blocked shot since February first: 29.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.4 rebounds.
- The tendency is to focus on Harden’s scoring, but his passing has improved as well. He played with better talent in Oklahoma City, but he is doing what a true star player does by making those around him better. Harden has registered 397 assists this season (68 games), the same number he tallied in his final 135 regular season games as a member of the Thunder.
- Harden has scored 1,085 points in the 39 games in which Omer Asik was the leading rebounder. He has scored 703 points in the 29 games that Asik didn’t record a game high rebound total.
- The Rockets shoot a lot of three pointers any way, but James Harden tends to launch triples even more often against another three point shooting team in Golden State. In his four games against the Warriors, 57.1% of his baskets have been long balls. Harden has scored 28.7% of his baskets from three point land against the rest of the NBA this season. Rockets have won 3 of 4 against GSW.
- Big time players make big time plays in the most important of times. That can be late in the game or late in the season, and Harden has to age like fine wine throughout the season. Since the all star break, Harden is taking fewer shots but scoring more points and averaging more assists while turning the ball over less.
- In 17 of his first 20 games as a member of the Rockets, Harden turned the ball over at least three times as he adjusted to being the “go-to” guy. After he corrected the flaw, the league as a whole adjusted and forced him into a 12 game January streak where he turned the ball over at least four times in each game. That being said, the Rockets were still scoring points. It is scary how efficient they are when Harden goes without a turnover, averaging 126.7 points.
- Assuming Harden starts every game for the rest of the regular season, the reigning sixth man of the year will have started 87 games. At 23 years old, that will put him two starts shy of Michael Jordan at the same age.
- Harden is averaging 42.6% of his points on Monday’s from the free throw line, far and away his highest percentage for a specific day. Steph Curry is the games best three point shooter and he scores 43.7% of his points from behind the arc on the first day of the week. Think about that for a minute. Harden’s free throws (on Monday’s) add up much slower, but almost equal the impact as Curry’s marksmanship.
- Harden made multiple three pointers in 19 of 20 games in a 49 day stretch. Curry is the best shooter we have in the game today, and has the potential to be the best of a generation, but his most prolific such streak this season was 14 such games out of 15.
- Over his last 12 games (as of March 26), Harden is averaging 25.8 points and has not attempted 20+ field goals once. J.R. Smith, off the bench mind you, is averaging 22.4 points and has attempted 20+ shots five times in his last 12 games.
- Harden ranks in the top 10 of the league in 3PM, ahead of gunners like J.R. Smith and O.J. Mayo. What makes Harden special is the fact that the three point shot is set up by his ability to attack the rim, not the other way around. Anybody can sit back and jack up three pointers, but it takes a truly well rounded player to be both a threat to tear the rim off the backboard and stroke the long ball. He has scored more points from the free throw line than from behind the arc in 27.9% of games this season.
- Harden has recorded a game high in assists 13 times this season while Jeremy Lin has done so 12 times.
- Harden is averaging 19.7% more points against the Hawks, who rank in the top half of the league in scoring defense, than any other opponent this season. He is averaging 21.5 points or fewer against only three teams (Jazz, Warriors, and Nuggets) that he has played multiple times this season, and they all rank in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense.
- How do you stop Harden if you can’t foul him, can’t give him breathing room on the perimeter, and can’t stop him from posterizing you ? Statistically speaking, the best way to contain The Beard is to force him to pull up from 5-9 feet away. Harden is shooting 32.6% from 5-9 feet, making only 30 of 92 shots. He is shooting a higher percentage from 40+ feet (33%) and has been considerably better from 20-29 feet (38.1%).