James Harden is off to a career-high scoring average for the Houston Rockets with the help of a record-setting statistic through the first 10 games.
Fresh off a 39 point, nine assist performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, James Harden is now averaging 37.3 points through the first 10 games of the season. As Royce Young of ESPN noted, that’s the highest average in the NBA after 10 games in the past 50 seasons. So how is the Houston Rockets superstar doing it?
After 10 games, The Beard has been historically good at getting to the free-throw line and converting. In fact, his 133 free throws made are the most any player has ever had after 10 games. Harden’s 133 made free throws are more than any other player in the league has even attempted, with Giannis Antetokounmpo being second in attempts at 110.
More impressive than Harden’s 15.1 attempts from the charity stripe per game is how many of those he’s making. His 88.1 percent clip after 10 games is on pace for a career-high after he set his last season at 87.9 percent.
40.7 PPG | 8.0 RPG | 9.3 APG
— NBA (@NBA) November 11, 2019
The 13.3 points per game James is getting from the line on its own would be enough to sit at fourth in scoring on the team. You read that right: If James Harden’s free throw makes were a player, they’d be averaging more than Danuel House (11.8), Eric Gordon (10.9) and P.J. Tucker (10.6). That is ridiculous.
The fact that Harden is getting to the line so often shows how aggressive he’s being, despite some claiming he’s just forcing shots from the outside. To be fair, he is doing plenty of that as well, shooting a league-high 14.1 treys per game. So far, Harden is only making 29.8 percent of those attempts, which is scary when you think about what this could mean for the league when he gets that going.
By my count, James Harden’s 4.2 outside makes per game add up to 12.6 points. Combining that with the 13.3 points he gets from the line every night, that’s a staggering 25.9 points per game from those two areas alone. That’s 69.4 percent of the Beard’s average per game!
Harden has turned drawing contact into an art, and it’s certainly showing early on in the season. If he starts to knock down threes at a more consistent rate, we could be looking at a 40-plus point scoring average from James.