This One Stat Underscores How Incredible James Harden’s Season Has Been

by NESN Staff

November 10, 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about James Harden’s incredible evolution.

Under the tutelage of offensive guru Mike D’Antoni, Harden has switched from shooting guard to point guard — a move for which he’s been dubbed “Point Harden” — and the numbers are off the charts.

Wednesday night, he showcased those abilities with a 24-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double in a 101-99 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

His season averages are up to 30.6 points, a league-leading 13.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game, which already is eye-popping even eight games into the NBA season. But just how impressive are those numbers? We took a closer look.

Averaging 30 points in a season is pretty cool, but it’s been done before — 67 times, to be exact. As it stands, he’s just the fourth-leading scorer in the league this season (behind DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis).

Ditto that notion for averaging double-digit assists: It’s happened 83 other times, though Harden is the only person to average those numbers this season.

But to do those two things — average 30 or more points and 10 or more assists — together in the same season? That’s pretty unique.

In 70 NBA seasons, just two players ever have reached those numbers, and it’s happened just six times total. Oscar Robertson did it five times, and Tiny Archibald did it once. Both are Hall of Famers.

To put this further into perspective, Harden actually is playing one fewer minute per game (37.6) than he did last season and is racking up these numbers in less time than either of the other two ever were able. The next-closest minutes per game average was Robertson’s 43.9 in the 1966-67 season.

If that’s not efficient enough for you, Harden also has the highest field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage of any such season. He’s also currently on pace for 21.52 win shares, which by far would be the most by any player in those seasons.

And oh, by the way, Harden currently has a 32.3 player efficiency rating (PER), which, if it lasted all season, incredibly would rank his performance as the best statistical season of all time. Seriously.

Only time will tell if the 27-year-old can keep up this type of performance, and history certainly suggests he probably won’t. Then again, records are meant to be broken, and “Point Harden” might have his sights set on all of them.

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images

All stats via basketball reference.

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