James Harden: The analytics leader of the 20,000 career points club

Houston Rockets guard James Harden has refined his mesmerizing step-back jumper over the years, and as the NBA’s best scorer, the move has helped launch him into the upper echelon of the league’s greatest bucket getters.

Harden joined the 20,000 career points club Saturday night, scoring 32 points in the Rockets’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

As one of the most talented offensive players ever, Harden has used that step back jumper to create space to knock down 3-pointers. His savvy dribbling has aided his driving ability, and consequently his ability to draw fouls. According to Justin Kubatko of Stat Muse, among the 20,000 points club members, Harden has the highest percentage of career points come from 3-pointers and free throws.

Harden being No. 1 on the list is indicative of the analytics-based era he’s played in. Shooting a plethora of 3-pointers and frequenting the free throw line is encouraged in today’s NBA. Harden leads the league this season in 3-point attempts and free throw attempts.

According to NBA.com, Harden is scoring 40.6% of his points from the 3-point line this season, and 28.4% of his points are from the free throw line.

With Harden setting himself apart, he’s shown why his skill set is one of the most unique in league history. As he continues his career, his elusive step back will put him in position to keep getting buckets and giving opposing players fits.

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