Jame Harden is breaking data and altering our conception of how a major ball-handler can play. His 3-point taking pictures tendencies are like nobody else within the league.

James Harden is taking pictures 12.5 3-point makes an attempt per sport. That could be a ridiculous stat in and of itself. However it’s value being attentive to how James Harden will get to that variety of makes an attempt. He’s additionally utterly forsaking what we consider as regular by way of pulling up from distance.

Steph Curry has been thought of the king of the pull-up 3, due to his extraordinary means to hit them at an extraordinary charge. However even Curry at his “pull-up peak” in 2015-16 combined in plenty of catch and shoot makes an attempt: 6.6 pull-up 3-pointers vs. 5.1 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers per 36 min. James Harden isn’t doing that. James Harden is taking pictures his solution to a totally completely different actuality:

Most gamers discover themselves on the left aspect of the graph above, i.e. they shoot extra 3-pointers as catch-and-shoot. James Harden is breaking into new territory on the fitting aspect of the graph, territory that has by no means actually been explored earlier than. Kemba Walker is the one participant even taking pictures half as many pull-up 3-pointers per 36 minutes as James Harden (Kemba is at 6.1 pull-up 3-point makes an attempt per 36).

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Information on dribbles and shot makes an attempt goes again to 2013-14 and in that context what James Harden is doing can also be fairly extraordinary:

There’s actually nobody close to what James Harden is doing proper now. James Harden makes an attempt 0.86 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers per 36 minutes performed. That’s principally the identical charge as Robin Lopez (0.84). Even when Russell Westbrook broke the utilization file within the 2016-17 season, he nonetheless tried 2.Three catch-and-shoot 3-pointers per 36 minutes. The plot above makes it clear that this yr is a continuation of a sample for Harden. Delving deeper into the dribbles knowledge makes it even clearer:

This season, greater than half of Harden’s 3-point makes an attempt comes after seven or extra dribbles and as I wrote on Twitter and as Ben Cohen detailed at WSJ, that leads to Harden having greater than twice as many makes an attempt after seven dribbles as the closest crew.

Under I’ve ranked gamers by what number of of their 3-point makes an attempt come after 7 or extra dribbles:

Another thing to notice in this graph: JJ Redick is very fond of the 1 dribble attempt.

The one one coming near Harden’s distribution is his personal teammate, Chris Paul. Going again as much as Fig. 2, additionally it is clear that Chris Paul within the final two seasons in Houston has modified his sport to contain extra pull-up 3-pointers.

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The similarities within the 3-point taking pictures of the Rockets duo additionally extends alongside different dimensions. Harden and Paul lead the league in 3-pointers per sport taken within the final 4 seconds of the shot clock. That is in fact not completely unrelated to the dribbling, because it takes time to dribble seven instances or extra. Taken collectively this partly explains why Houston is third-last in tempo, per NBA stats.

One other hanging consequence of all this dribbling by the duo in Houston is how little Paul and Harden help one another. As of Jan. 10, they each nonetheless had extra assists to Carmelo Anthony(!) this season than to one another, per pbpstats.com.

The most typical 3-point try within the NBA is a wide-open catch-and-shoot try. “Huge open” is to be understood as an try with a defender a minimum of 6 ft away. NBA.com/stats divides proximity into 4 classes: Huge open (6+ ft), Open (4-6 ft), Tight (2-Four ft) and Very tight (0-2 ft). Huge-open catch-and-shoot 3-pointers account for 43.5 % of all makes an attempt this season. James Harden doesn’t get to shoot that shot. He has tried 12 of these. Hassan Whiteside has 15 this season. After all that can also be as a result of Whiteside is left open, however nonetheless. Under I’ve proven the distribution of 3-point makes an attempt for the league and a few gamers for reference:

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I included Kemba and LeBron as two different high-usage scorers with no different nice scorer on their crew. They nonetheless get a sizeable variety of wide-open 3-point makes an attempt. Harden doesn’t.

James Harden is having a legendary season, inspiring us right here on Nylon Calculus to dive into his taking pictures charts and to research how different scorers would fare enjoying as he does. The massive query is whether or not that is sustainable for Harden. He’s taking pictures 38.6 % on 3-pointers, which is close to his career-high, regardless of this creating sample, which might appear to be resulting in an increasing number of troublesome photographs.

Subsequent: What if the NBA’s finest scorers all performed like James Harden?

Diving deeper into the stats, a warning signal is that he has shot 44.5 % on 227 pull-up 3-point makes an attempt with a defender inside Four to six ft, the most typical distance for pull-up try. From 2013 to 2018, Harden shot 35.1 % on that very same shot. It’s not farfetched to think about that he cools off within the second half of the season. Even so, what he’s doing is particular and it’s a deal with to observe a participant doing one thing that nobody else is doing.

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