Monday, December 19, 2016

tearin' it up early

A couple of guards getting off to good starts early this season in the NBA:

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City. Westbrook leads the league in points per game (30.4); he's dishing out 11.0 assists per game, good enough for 2nd in the league; and when you include his 10.5 rebounds per game, he's averaging a triple-double -- nobody's done that for an entire season since Oscar Robertson, back in the 60s! Westbrook has collected 13 triple-doubles so far this season. He had 18 triple-doubles last season, tying Magic Johnson's mark from the 1981-82 season (Robertson had 41 back in '61-'62).

Classic shot of Oscar Robertson playing college ball at Cincinnati

James Harden, Houston. Harden is the league's 5th-leading scorer, pouring in 27.7 points per game, and he leads the league in assists (11.8). He's also been grabbing 8.0 rebounds per game. Not bad.

These two guys also hold the top two spots in the league in free throw attempts (Westbrook - 10.4, Harden - 10.3). Both guys shoot well from the charity stripe -- Westbrook is hitting on about 81% of his tries and Harden comes in a few notches higher, at about 84%. Thus, Harden leads the league in free throws made per game (8.6) and Westbrook stands 3rd at 8.4. The ability to get to the line often -- and to collect lots of "free" points -- qualifies as an art form, one that separates the elite players from the rest.

I don't know if Westbrook and Harden can continue to put up these numbers throughout the entire season. Probably not. Westbrook's triple-double numbers certainly impress, and probably make him the leading MVP candidate so far, but I'm amazed that Harden is scoring so much while also leading the NBA in assists! I didn't think he had it in him!

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Side note: Cleveland's LeBron James is quietly putting up some killer numbers of his own, and for one of the NBA's elite teams (the Cavs currently sport a 19-6 won/loss record, third-best in the league): 25.0 ppg, 9.0 apg, 7.6 rpg, 51.7% shooting from the field, 35.2% on 3-point tries. Outstanding, and still (perhaps) the best all-around player in pro basketball.

The Powerful LeBron James

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Early-season sharp-shooting:

Steph Curry, Golden State: 3.8 made 3-pointers per game, tops in the league. Curry's shooting 40.3% on 9.4 three-point tries per game. He's also 2nd in the league in free throw percentage (93.2% on 5.2 tries per game). Blazing!

Kevin Durant, Golden State: Burying 53.8% of his shots from the field, 40.9% of his three-point tries, and 86.2% from the free throw line. Those numbers make me think of a guy named Larry Bird.

Courtney Lee, Knicks: 45.4% FGs, 86.4% FTs, 47.4% 3-pointers.

Channing Frye, in limited minutes with Cleveland: 44.6% FGs, 94.1% FTs, 47.1% 3-pointers.

George Hill, Utah: 53.4% FGs, 88.4% FTs, 45.6% 3-pointers.

C.J. McCollum, Portland: 47.8% FGs, 90.8% FTs, 45.5% 3-pointers.

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