Starting Lineup: James Harden is Making History

As we near the All-Star break, let’s take a look at some of the best moments as well as some of the best lineups so far in the 2016-17 season.

5 Best Games of the Season

(based on Basketball-Reference’s Game Score)

Jimmy Butler – 1/2/2017

Game Score: 51.5
Stat line: 62.5% FG, 52 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

Chicago has been able to stay around a .500 record thanks to Jimmy Butler, who gave us a great start to the 2017 calendar year against the Hornets. Butler put up 52 points on a great shooting percentage. He put up a little bit of everything in stats, including just two turnovers. He has the best Game Score of the season so far, but with plenty of season left, we could see this fall sooner rather than later.

James Harden – 12/31/2016

Game Score: 48.7
Stat line: 53 points, 16 rebounds, 17 assists

The end of the 2016 calendar year gave us the second-best game of the season so far thanks to James Harden. Against the Knicks, Harden tied the second-highest mark for assists in a game (set by himself a couple months earlier) as well as the third-highest points in a game for the season. Too bad he had eight turnovers or else he might have the best game so far this season.

James Harden – 1/27/17

Game Score: 46.9
Stat line: 51 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists

File this under the same umbrella as the game listed above with Harden – it could have beenin the running for the best game of the year (so far) if not for Harden’s five turnovers. However, Harden became the first player to put up two games of at least 50 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a season in his matchup against 76ers.

Klay Thompson – 12/5/2016

Game Score: 46.2
Stat line: 60 points, 63.6% FG, 57.1% 3pFG

The best game of the season from a Warriors’ player did not come from Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, it came from sharpshooter Klay Thompson. It’s the only 60 point game of the season, but Thompson didn’t do much else, tallying just two rebounds and one assist. Thompson did hit 21 of his 33 field goals, including 8 of his 14 three-point attempts.

Anthony Davis – 10/26/2016

Game Score: 44.2
Stat line: 50 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks

Anthony Davis gave us a great start to the season when the Pelicans hosted the Nuggets back in October. This game was one of two games that gave Davis 95 total points to start the season – the highest two game total to start a season, beating out Michael Jordan’s 90 points in the 1986-87 season.

Honorable Mention: Isaiah Thomas – 12/20/2016

Game Score: 43.2
Stat line: 44 points, 62.5% FG, 70% 3pFG, 17-17 FT, 6 assists

The young Celtics guard had his coming out party this past December on the road against Memphis. Isaiah Thomas had the best game of his career, hit nearly all of his 10 three-pointers and all of his free throws for 44 points and dished out 6 assists while he was at it. That has been one of the biggest reasons he could gain an All-Star spot this season.

5 Best Triple-Doubles in NBA History

James Harden – 12/31/16 & 1/27/17

The best two triple doubles in history belong to James Harden and are from this season as mentioned above. He’s etching his name not just in the history books of 2016-17, but in all of NBA history with two of his triple doubles this season. One thing that stands out from the rest of the top-five in NBA history is his three-point attempts. He took 27 three-point shots between the 2 games (making 15 of them) and the rest of the top-5 has just 1 other three-point attempt. Looking at the rest of the list and we can make sense of why that happened.

David Robinson – 1/10/1991

Game Score: 46.6
Stat Line: 43 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks, 66.7% FG

Let’s take a trip back to before some current NBA stars were even born as The Admiral put up his first of six career triple-doubles. This is also one of just 10 triple-doubles in history to be accomplished with blocks. David Robinson was a perfect 15 of 15 from the charity stripe and has the 19th best field goal shooting percentage of all triple doubles.

Michael Jordan – 4/13/1989

Game Score: 45.8
Stat Line: 47 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists

It’s not a list of the greatest things in NBA history without the GOAT. His Airness barely got a rest in one of his seven career triple doubles, playing 46 of 48 minutes, but it also came in a losing effort for Jordan and the Bulls. More remember Michael Jordan for his clutch gene and dunking prowess, but he did notch some impressive triple doubles early in his career.

David Robinson – 11/9/1993

Game Score: 44.8
Stat Line: 43 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks

Robinson appears on the list again with his second career triple double, an almost identical match to his first. He wasn’t quite perfect from the free throw line and had one less rebound and had a slightly less score thanks to a tiny dip in his shooting percentage from the previous game on this list.

5 Best 5-Man Lineups of the Season

(based on using Net Rating of lineups that logged 300 or minutes together)

S.Curry, K.Durant, D.Green, Z.Pachulia, K.Thompson

Net Rating: 23.0

The Warriors have the best record in the league thanks to these guys. Durant has been a great fit in Golden State’s system and this is the best five-man lineup by far. It has the highest Offensive Rating (120.2) and the second best Defensive Rating (97.2) on this list.

B.Griffin, D.Jordan, L.Mbah a Moute, C.Paul, J.Redick

Net Rating: 16.2

This lineup hasn’t played together yet in 2017, but the 23 games they did play with each other were dynamite. They brought in the best Defensive Rating on the list at 95.3 and weren’t slacking off offensively (111.5 Offensive Rating). Clippers fans could have a lot to cheer for when Griffin and Paul come back to play.

B.Beal, M.Gortat, M.Morris, O.Porter Jr., J.Wall

Net Rating: 11.1

The only lineup that has appeared in nearly every game together consists of the Wizards’ quintet. They have played over 800 minutes together and only one other Wizards lineup has surpassed 100 minutes together this season.

L.Aldridge, P.Gasol, D.Green, K.Leonard, T.Parker

Net Rating: 10.0

This isn’t one the Spurs’ best defensive lineups, but it’s still one of the strongest in the league. They also have the highest assist to turnover ratio (2.49) of any lineup. This is a lineup waiting for an injured player to come back like the Clippers, but it gives the Spurs a lot of hope in the post-Tim Duncan era.

P.George, G.Robinson III, J.Teague, M.Turner, T.Young

Net Rating: 9.5

This top lineup for the Pacers is second to only the Warriors’ lineup in Pace and barely beats out the Cavaliers lineup of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R.Smith, and Tristan Thompson in Net Rating (9.3). Their True Shooting percentage is also the second highest of qualifying lineups.

5 Best Three-Point Shooting Teams of the Season

San Antonio Spurs – 41.1%

The Spurs are hitting an outstanding percentage of three pointers this season, but that is partially due to their low number of attempts per game (22.6), the fifth lowest mark in the league right now.

Golden State Warriors – 38.6%

The comments of the Spurs make this percentage of the Warriors look more impressive. The Warriors take the fifth-most three-pointers in the league and still maintain the second best percentage in the league.

Cleveland Cavaliers – 38.2%

They’re shooting one more three-pointer per game than the Warriors, and like them, are hitting nearly the same percentage. Can we have the three-point contest be between just players from the Cavs and Warriors this year?

L.A. Clippers – 38.1%

The Clippers have a great percentage in three-pointers thanks to not only Chris Paul, but J.J. Reddick and Austin Rivers as well. Rivers and Reddick are taking 10 threes a game and hitting well over 40% of them.

Toronto Raptors – 37.5%

The Raptors start the next tier of good three-point shooting teams and their the leader of that pack. Patrick Patterson, Terrence Roass and DeMarre Carroll are all hitting at least 34% of their threes each game and Kyle Lowry is hitting 42.9% of his 7.5 threes a game, the sixth-most attempts by all players in the league.

5 Teams that Live in the Paint

(based on and ranking on most points per game in the paint for each team)

Milwaukee Bucks

50.7 points per game
48.4% of team’s points

The Bucks are a young team fighting for a playoff spot in the East and spend a lot of time scoring points in the paint. Leading the team in points in the paint aren’t their big men, but instead forwards Giannis Antetokunmpo and Jabari Parker. These two make up for half the points in the paint for the Bucks, combining for 23.8 points per game.

Oklahoma City Thunder

48.8 points per game
46.9% of team’s points

The Thunder have two solid big men in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter playing in the paint for them. They combine for nearly 20 points per game in the paint for them with Russell Westbook chipping in another 10.3 per game in the paint.

Denver Nuggets

49.5 points per game
44.8% of team’s points

The Nuggets have five players that average over six points per game in the paint. Leading the way is Nikola Jokic, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler. These three combine for 23.8 points in the paint per game for the Nuggets.

Golden State Warriors

47.2 points per game
40% of team’s points

The Warriors have four player with at least five points per game that come in the paint. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson combine for 10.4 points in the paint themselves while Durant puts up that much in the paint by himself each game. Sometimes a forgotten man in Golden State, Stephen Curry is second on the team with 6.4 points per game.

Houston Rockets

46.4 points per game
40.6% of team’s points

The Rockets wouldn’t be a top team in the West without James Harden, but he doesn’t lead the team in points in the paint per game. Harden has a nice 8.7 points per game in the paint, but Clint Capela leads the way for the Rockets, putting up 10.4 points in the paint of them.