Let me begin by saying that the “all James Harden does is shoot free throws” debate is silly. Yes, he shoots a lot of free throws, but he shoots a lot of everything else too. Also, since when is drawing contact to score more efficiently not a skill?
ANYWAYS- back to the main point of this article- I ran across this insane stat on Twitter that says a lot about Harden’s game.
22 players with at least 300 pull-up 3-point attempts over the last 2 seasons. pic.twitter.com/WEiuiyGXGb— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) September 17, 2018
Look at these numbers. This is just ludicrous.
Over the last two seasons, Harden has attempted 1,107 pull-up three-pointers. The next closest, Damian Lillard, shot only 756 pull-up three-pointers. I’ll do the math for you: that’s a difference of 351 threes.
It’s not even close.
What’s unsung most about Harden’s MVP/scoring champion ‘17-’18 season was that he led the league in total threes made, making 265 threes to second place Paul George’s 244. The year before, Harden was third in threes made, only six behind Klay Thompson for second place.
His shot selection is much deeper than free throws. Pun intended.
Still, looking at these stats has raised a bigger dilemma for me: should he keep shooting threes at this volume?
Short answer: absolutely.
Harden is efficient in his shot choice. He shot 36.7% from deep last year and 45% from the field. When he stepped inside the line, he shot 53% from two-point range and took only 10 of said shots a game. Add in 10 free-throw attempts per game, and way more often than not, he’s scoring when he’s driving inside.
Until that changes, he should keep taking a lot of threes and keep drawing contact.