Houston Rockets superstar, James Harden is averaging a career-high 39.2 points per game, helping the highest-scoring offense in the NBA generate 119.5 points per game. The addition of his old teammate, Russell Westbrook, has paid off early dividends for both Harden and the Rockets.
With an 11-3 record, the Rockets are tied for most wins in the Western Conference with the LA Lakers. The Rockets are leading the Southwest Division by 2.5 games over triple-double machine, Luka Doncic, and the upstart Dallas Mavericks.
The Rockets won eight games in a row. They are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games, including a 4-0 clip ATS in their last four games.
James Harden Stats
Average: 39.2 ppg
FG: 42.5 percent
3PT-FG: 34.0 percent
Harden is flirting with Wilt Chamberlin territory. Only the legendary Wilt the Stilt averaged more points per game than Harden. At the peak of his scoring prowess, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game in 1961-62. The next season thru 1962-63, the unstoppable Chamberlin scored 44.8 points per game.
Harden jacks up 14.3 treys per night, and connects on 4.9 three-pointers per game. He’s also getting to the line frequently, as per usual. Harden averages 14.5 free throw attempts per game, and he makes 12.8 free throws per game.
Harden is second in the NBA with a 31.59 PER advanced metric, which makes fantasy nerds and stat geeks drool at 30-plus PER.
Harden MVP Watch
Harden got robbed of the MVP last season. Even though he averaged a career-high 36.1 points per game and scored 30-plus in 32-consecutive games, the Greek Freak snatched up the award.
Even with the addition of well-known ball hog, Russell Westbrook, to the Rockets this season, Harden experienced an uptick in offense and overall scoring. Many pundits, myself included, believed the addition of Westbrook sounded great on paper, but would become problematic in real life with only one basketball. Through 14 games this season, the exact opposite has occurred.
Harden is only taking one extra shot per game this season, but he’s also getting at least 3.5 extra free throws compared to last season. In 14 games, Harden has had 14.5 chances per game from the charity stripe versus 11.0 last season.
Harden scoring a lot of points isn’t something that garners headlines, because he does it so frequently. Still, there’s something a little extra special about Harden and the Rockets’ start this season. Everyone in Houston, especially head coach Mike D’Antoni, hopes it can sustain throughout the entire season.
Harden for 👌 + ☝️!
— NBA (@NBA) November 19, 2019
Harden dropped 36 points against the Portland Trail Blazers last night, which is underwhelming compared to his previous three games of 47, 44, and 49 points.
“For him, he had a subpar night,” joked Portland coach Terry Stotts.
Westbrook focused more on rebounding and assists in the last couple of seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged a triple-double in his last three seasons. Last season, Westbrook tallied 22.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game.
He took a back seat and deferred to Paul George, who handled the bulk of the scoring load last season.
This season, Westbrook took another step back and let Harden become the primary focus in the offense. His overall scoring is down a smidge at 21.6 ppg, and he is no longer averaging a triple-double (8.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists), but the Rockets have been winning. The new arrangement is working… for now.
“People like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again,” said Westbrook about his teammate Harden. “It’s not normal, because there’s no one else that can do it. If it was normal, everybody would do it. He’s put himself in a position to one of the best scorers of all time.”
In a recent victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Westbrook recorded a triple-double with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
According to William Hill, the Houston Rockets are now 8/1 odds to win the 2020 NBA title.