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A Historic Harden Heater

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Here in “Notable Numbers,” we attempt to unearth a plethora of interesting stats and fantasy-relevant facts each week. Today, among other topics, we highlight James Harden’s incredible scoring surge, Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris exceeding expectations in Los Angeles, and a pair of historical performances by bigs.

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Harden Hot
James Harden’s offensive brilliance has been on display for many years now. He led the NBA in assists in 2016-17, and led the league in scoring 2017-18, on his way to taking home the NBA’s MVP award.

Obviously, we’ve seen him locked and loaded for long stretches before. However, this season, and the last few weeks, in particular, Harden has been a different kind of hot. Here are a few facts related to this incredible run:

* Over the Rockets last ten games (in which Houston has gone 9-1), Harden is averaging 40.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 5.7 treys and 2.2 steals.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harden is just the third player over the last 30 years to score at least 400 points in a ten-game span. Kobe Bryant (three times) and Michael Jordan (twice) are the others.

* Harden has scored at least 35 points and dished out at least five assists in each of the Rockets last eight games, which is the longest such streak in NBA history. Oscar Robertson was the only other player to have a seven-game streak of 35/5 contests.

* Harden has tallied at least 35 points, five dimes and five made 3-pointers in seven straight games - also an NBA record. In fact, Stephen Curry is the only other player in league history with more than two consecutive such games. Just how remarkable is this feat?
Here are the total number of CAREER games with at least 35 points, five assists and 5 made 3-pointers for the following players:
- Michael Jordan: 3
- Reggie Miller: 4
- Steve Nash: 7
- Jason Kidd: 3
- Larry Bird: 0

* The Beard has taken it to another level of late, scoring 40-plus points in each of his last four games. Per Basketball-Reference, his current streak of four consecutive contests with more than 40 points and more than five assists is the longest since the start of the 1983-84 season. Jordan and Kobe never had a streak longer than two such games. Also, Harden has knocked down at least five triples in each of these past four games. You don’t need me to tell you that’s another record.

* Harden scored a total of 546 points in the month of December. Paul George ranked second in the league in scoring last month, with a total of 431 points. Yes, Harden scored 115 more points than every other player in the NBA.

Gallo Good:
Fantasy GM’s were understandably skeptical about Danilo Gallinari heading into the 2018-19 campaign. While his talent was never in question, the injury issues that had plagued him were a major red flag. After all, the injury-prone forward had appeared in just 196 of a possible 410 games over the last five seasons. As a result, Gallo’s ADP plummeted all the way to 188 in drafts this past October.

As those savvy GM’s that rolled the dice on Gallinari knew, if he were able to stay healthy, he’d almost certainly outperform his draft position.

Well, here we are, nearly to the mid-point of the 2018-19 season, and Gallo has missed only one game. And not only has he avoided injury, Gallinari is also averaging career-highs in scoring (19.6 points), rebounding (6.3 boards), field goal percentage (45.7%) and three-point percentage (46.0%). The sharp-shooter has been remarkably consistent and efficient all year long, scoring in double-figures in 34 of the 35 games he’s played in this season.

Per Basketball-Reference, he’s currently on pace to become just the fifth player in NBA history to average over 19 points and six rebounds per game, while also shooting over 40 percent from 3-point territory. The other four players in this club are Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and Peja Stojakovic. Furthermore, no player in league history has ever averaged at least 19 points and six boards, while shooting over 45 percent from downtown on over three attempts per game for a full season.

Oh, and Gallinari is also shooting 92.3 percent from the charity stripe. The only players to ever slash 45%/45%/90% while attempting at least four treys per game are Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Stephen Curry and Kyle Korver.

Gallo currently ranks 22nd overall in nine-category fantasy formats. While I understand the desire to sell high due to the injury concerns, make sure you are getting back comparable value in return if you consider going that route.

Harris Hooping
Another Clipper that has exceeded expectations this season is Tobias Harris.

There were high hopes for Harris coming into 2018-19, but very few folks predicted he would be a top-25 overall producer. However, Harris is on pace to establish career-highs in scoring (21.0 points per game), rebounding (8.2 board), field goal percentage (50.4%), three-point percentage (42.5%) and free-throw percentage (88.1%).

Like Gallinari, Harris has been remarkably efficient. According to Basketball-Reference, the only player in league history to average 20+ points and 8+ rebounds while shooting above 42% or better from downtown for a full NBA campaign was Larry Bird.

Bryant Balling
While Gallo and others may have had a relatively low ADP on Fantasy Draft Day back in October, Thomas Bryant wasn’t even on the radar.

Bryant, who spent most of last season in the G-League, logged a total of 72 minutes in the NBA in 2017-18, scoring just 22 points for the Lakers. L.A. waived him in June, and the Wizards scooped him up in July.

Due to a variety of injuries and trades, Bryant ended up in the starting lineup for Washington in late November. After some modest production early on, he has been a beast of late. Over the Wizards last five contests, Bryant is averaging 16.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.5 minutes, while shooting 75 percent from the floor and 88.2 percent from the charity stripe. He ranks 30th overall in nine-category leagues during this five-game stretch.

Bryant obviously won’t maintain that lofty ranking going forward, but with John Wall (heel) sidelined for the season, he’ll see plenty of shot attempts in and around the rim for the Wizards. Bryant belongs on rosters in all fantasy formats.

Nuclear Nurk Alert!
If I pen a column discussing notable numbers generated over the last week, I have no choice but to shout out to Jusuf Nurkic. The Bosnian Beast had been playing very well recently but took it to another level in the Blazers overtime victory over the Kings on Tuesday. He scored poured in 24 points, inhaled 23 rebounds, dished out seven assists, pilfered five steals and blocked five shots.

Some nights, a player has a monster fantasy night by doing a little bit of everything. Well, Nurk did a lot of everything. He is the first player in NBA history to record a 5x5 game that also included over 20 points and 20 boards.

However, it’s wasn’t just a one-game anomaly for Nurkic. Over Portland’s last four games, he is averaging 21.5 points (on 56.6 percent shooting), 13.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists.

KAT Crushing
Although Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t notch a 5x5 last Sunday, he did tally 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, three-3pointers three steals and six blocks.

As if that wasn’t enough, the next day, on the second night of a back-to-back, KAT totaled 28 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, five blocked shots and two 3-pointers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Towns is the second player ever to record back-to-back games of 25+ points, 15+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 5+ blocks, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who did it four times).

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