Analyzing the NBA’s Leading Scorers
So far this season, we have 4 players averaging more than 30 points per game, and there hasn’t been a year with more than one 30 point scorer since Allen Iverson and LeBron James did it in the 05 – 06 season. Can these 4 maintain their current pace? Let’s find out:
DeMar DeRozan: 33.2 PPG, 51.0 FG%, 26.3 3P%
How he’s doing it: DeMar has been lights out from midrange this season, taking nearly half of his jumpers from the 15 to 19 foot range, and hitting them at a 50% clip, well above the league average. He’s also been creating the majority of his looks, with 56% of his attempts coming after taking 3 dribbles or more. He’s been staying away from the weakest part of his offensive repertoire, only attempting 1.9 three’s per game, and shooting a measly 26.3%.
Sustainable? I say yes; the Raptors are going to depend on his scoring all season, and it’s not like he’s been hitting shots that he hasn’t been able to make before. He has continually refined his midrange game, which is now quite possibly the best in the league, and it’s showing. I think the Summer Olympics did him good, and he very may well end up as the 2016-2017 scoring champ.
Russell Westbrook: 32 PPG, 44.2 FG%, 33.9 3P%
How he’s doing it: Russell is basically the Thunder’s entire offensive gameplan; his usage rate is 40.8%, which is absurdly high, considering that only 17 players in NBA history have had a usage rate higher than 35%. Additionally, 41% of his shots come after he’s had the ball for more than 6 seconds, showing that he likes to take up a lot of OKC’s time of possession. Many of these shots are either contested layups, or contested pull up jumpers, so it’s no surprise he’s shooting at such a pedestrian FG%. But, to his credit, he is leading the league in FTA, taking 11.6 per game.
Sustainable? Absolutely. The Thunder have no other options on offense if Oladipo doesn’t start showing some consistency, so I see no reason why his usage rate should drop more than a few percentage points. Fatigue is the only thing in between Russ and the highest usage rate in NBA history.
Anthony Davis: 30.5 PPG, 48.5 FG%
How he’s doing it: AD is in a similar situation as Westbrook, considering that until Jrue Holiday returns, the Pelicans lack any kind of offensive skill outside of Davis. His usage rate is 33.7%, which seems pedestrian in comparison to Russ, but is still huge in its own right. But where Davis differs is that only 27.8% of his baskets come unassisted, which comes from his heavy involvement in pick & rolls. Also like Westbrook, Anthony is drawing a ton of fouls, taking 11.5 attempts from the stripe per game.
Sustainable? Ehh, maybe. When Holiday returns he’ll be able to shoulder some of the scoring load that AD has handled on his own so far, but Davis has averaged 24 PPG for the past two seasons, so 28 PPG seems like a more reasonable estimate.
James Harden: 30.3 PPG, 49.7 FG%, 38.6 3P%
How he’s doing it: James Harden has been unleashed as the point guard in Mike D’Antoni’s uptempo system, and as a playmaker he’s been performing better than anyone expected. He certainly hasn’t been a slouch in the scoring department, either, but we’ve come to expect this type of scoring excellence from him. Much like Westbrook and Davis, Harden is really the straw that stirs the drink, as more than 55% of his shots have been taken after he’s had the ball for more the 6 seconds, and 84% of his made baskets have come unassisted. And as per usual, he’s drawing plenty of fouls, taking 9.6 FT per game.
Sustainable? 100% yes. The departure of Dwight and the arrival of D’Antoni are a combination that will serve Harden well this season. Also, the Rockets offense hasn’t even cracked the top 15 in terms of offensive pace, so once D’Antoni really gets this team humming, Harden will have no problem averaging 30 for the season.