Another day, another 40-point game for James Harden.
The Houston Rockets' prolific scorer went for 42 points in a win over the Chicago Bulls, nearly notching a triple-double with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Harden shot 12-for-27 (44.4%) from the field, 9-for-19 (47.4%) from 3-point range and 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the free throw line - a much more efficient line from the field and beyond the arc than we've seen from the All-NBA guard on average this season.
Harden (42 PTS, 10 REB, 9 AST, 9 3PM) was COOKING tonight! 👨🍳#OneMission pic.twitter.com/CNuSL9xlIO- NBA TV (@NBATV) November 10, 2019
This was Harden's fourth game in nine games this season where he's scored 40 points or more. He's scored 40, 42, 44 and 59 points in those four games, which has helped his league-best 37.1 points per game.
The NBA's back-to-back scoring champion is on the right track for the 3-peat but his efficiency from the field and 3-point land has been his career-worst through this small sample size.
That raises the question - if he's already averaging 37.1 points per game with the least-efficient shooting of his career, could he become the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963 to average 40.0 points per game?
Lets break it down.
Right now, Harden is scoring 37.1 points per game shooting 39.5% from the field, 30.0% from 3-point range and 84.8% from the free throw line.
He's shot 86-for-218 on field goal attempts, 39-for-130 on 3-point attempts and 123-for-145 on free throw attempts for a total of 334 points.
For his career, Harden has shot 44.2% from the field, 36.3% from 3-point range and 85.8% from the free throw line.
If Harden were to have started this season shooting his career averages, he would have 96 field goals (with 47 of them coming from 3-point range) and 124 made free throws.
That would mean he would have 363 points on the season, averaging 40.3 points per game.
So the answer is yes - through this small sample size of nine games, if Harden's efficiency was at his averages for his career, he would be averaging over 40 points per game. And that's not to mention that last season, when the scoring champion averaged 36.1 points per game, he was slightly more efficient than his career averages.
Again, it's a small sample size, but if Harden continues to put up shots from the 3-point land and and get to the free throw line as often as he has to start the season, but can get his efficiency closer to the mean of his career, we could witness history as the first player to average over 40.0 points per game in 56 years!