How Good Is James Harden's Offense?
Hero Ball has become a term in the English basketball language.
Basically, this is a style of basketball involving a person with average talent who thinks he's Michael Jordan or something, so he tries to win games by himself. It involves extended amounts of time dribbling and possessing the ball (ball hogging, if you wish) and taking highly-contested, low-percentage shots, like fadeaway jumpers.
With that being said, what's that make James Harden's game?
Does that make Harden's game superhero ball then? I don't know about that. But one thing is certain -- Harden is Houston's hero.
All season long, the Beard has been playing more like "Beard Man" -- scorer of points, distributor of assists and securer of wins.
Harden's been great, and even with his improved defensive effort this season, his greatness really takes place on the offensive end of the floor.
With fellow superstar Dwight Howard in a suit over half as many times as he's been in a jersey this year, Harden has had to shoulder the load on offense for Houston. The offense almost completely revolves around him, but he's clearly okay with that.
Harden does a
little lot of everything for his Rockets team.
For starters, he scores. He scores a lot. Harden's the league leader in points per game with 27 per contest. He also leads the league in total points with 214 points. But has he done it efficiently?
Harden does have the most field goal attempts and misses in the NBA, and he comes in at fourth in made field goals. As a result, he shoots just over 45% from the field. But Harden is, in fact, efficient. He an effective field goal percentage (which takes into account three-pointers being worth one more point than twos) of 52.4%, and a true shooting percentage (which takes into account field goals, three-point field goals and free throws) of 60.9%, which is 11th in the league. This is a big reason why.
While Harden doesn't shy away from taking jumpers, contested or not, he is also super effective at getting to the rim and either finishing like he did there, or drawing a foul. And James Harden draws a lot of fouls. He has both shot (434) and made (384) the most free throws in the league by a wide margin. The next closest player in both categories, Jimmy Butler, has 86 less attempts and 95 less makes. With the ninth-best free throw percentage in the entire league, at 88.5%, it's no mystery why his true shooting percentage is so high, and therefore why he is so efficient offensively.
But Harden does more than just score, too. He knows how to create for his teammates off the dribble when he doesn't have a good shot at the hoop himself (which isn't too often). He's 12th among all NBA guards in assists per game with 6.8. He's the best facilitating two-guard in the league. He owns an assistant percentage of 35.2% -- which means he assists on over 35% of his teammates field goals while he's on the court. He accounts for a lot of points one way or another.
Harden's all-around offensive game has earned him a total of 7.4 offensive win shares -- the highest total in the league. And his nERD (our in-house metric that measures a player's total contribution based on his efficiency) of 20.8 is second only to Anthony Davis in the entire NBA.
But the one statistic that might have you thinking Harden really is a superhero? Minutes. Harden is tied for fourth in total minutes and is sixth in minutes per game (36.3). He's Iron Man -- and without Dwight Howard, he's definitely the real Superman. Numbers don't lie.