James Harden has been torching the league all season on the offensive end at a level that hasn’t been seen in the NBA in years (if ever). Here’s an in-depth look at just how well James Harden’s transcendent offensive season stacks up historically.
Points per Game: 37.7
In terms of raw scoring output Harden has picked up his pace from last year (36.1 PPG) and then some. He’s even doing it on slightly fewer shot attempts per-game (24.5 attempts vs 24.2). This has been a long-running trend for Harden, his scoring output has gone up every season of his career with the exception of the 2013-2014 season.
Harden’s scoring this season is on a level not seen since Michael Jordan’s 1986-1987 season, in which he averaged 37.1 points per game. In fact, Hardens 37.7 points per game is the most by any player since the NBA/ABA merger.
Free Throw Attempts Per Game: 12.4
One of Harden’s most well known (and controversial) traits is his ability to get to the free-throw line seemingly at will. He has been to the line over 10 times per game for the past seven seasons. Those seven seasons shooting more than 10 free throws per game is third all-time, only behind the legendary hall of fame big men Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal.
Harden’s free throw rate this season is a career-high for him and is the highest by a guard since the addition of the 3-point line. You’d have to go all the way back to Jerry West’s 1965-1966 season to find a guard getting to the line as much as Harden does.
True Shooting Percentage: 63.6%
Not only is Harden scoring at an absurd rate, but he is also doing it at an insanely efficient level. Even while shooting more than anyone else in the league Harden ranks as the fourth most efficient scorer among guards by true shooting percentage and 25th overall, ahead of many other NBA superstars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić and Anthony Davis.
To help put into perspective just how efficient Hardens season has been so far the career leader in true shooting percentage is DeAndre Jordan at 63.7 percent. James Harden has been putting up more points than anyone has in almost half a century at basically all-time levels of efficiency.
It’s hard to argue that Harden on the offensive side of the court has been anything less than incredible. He’s been playing lights-out and has the Rockets riding high with a record of 26-12, only half a game out of second place in the western conference.
While the Rockets are succeeding now the main question is whether Harden can continue his good run of form into the playoffs, something he has not been able to do in recent years. If Harden can keep up his efficiency on offense and with some help from Westbrook the Rockets have a serious shot at making the NBA Finals.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference