LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are all great players who are having incredible seasons. It’s not all about the scoring with these three as they are putting up some career assist numbers. Let’s start with Harden, a guy not known for his passing ability.
Harden averaged a career high 7.5 assists last season while dishing out a career high 612 assists. He’s on pace to destroy those numbers. In just 18 games Harden is already at 215 assists which is second in the league behind Russell Westbrook. Harden didn’t get 200+ assists last season until mid-December.
Despite his team’s play Harden still put up a career high 23 double-doubles last season and had 18 double-digit assist games. This year he already has 14 double-digit assist games and he has 14 double-doubles. He ranks in the top 3 in double-doubles this season. He also has three triple-doubles which matches his total from last season. His career high is four which he did back in the 2014-15 season. You would think with such a drastic change in numbers Harden would be playing more minutes but this season his minutes are down and he’s only played 40+ minutes twice. He did that 32 times last season.
According to Basketball-Reference; Assist Percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while on the floor. James Harden had a career high 35.4% assist percentage last season, this season he is at 54.6%. In terms of a single game he had a 64.3% assist percentage game last season while this year he already has four games over 65% including two over 70%.
Moving on to Russell Westbrook, the man who is averaging a triple-double as I write this. He leads the league in total assists double-doubles and triple-doubles. Last season he had 18 triple-doubles which was impressive but in just 20 games this year he already has nine.
Last season Westbrook had a career high 54 double-doubles but he’s on pass to shatter that number. In those double-doubles he had 48 games with double-digit assists. He already has 12 this season including five games with at least 15 assists.
With Kevin Durant leaving we all knew Westbrook would take on more responsibilities but he’s doing all this in just 35 minutes per game which is around his career average. His usage percentage which is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor is at a career high 41%. His assist percentage is even higher than Harden’s at 58%.
At this point in his career LeBron James is just different. He has even more control on the court and he’s using that to his advantage. LeBron has always been a passer and this season he’s at his best. He’s averaging a career high 9.3 assists this season. His previous high was 8.6 way back in the 2009-10 season.
Last year he had 28 double-doubles and 12 games with 10+ assists. This year he’s at nine double-doubles but more importantly he’s had seven games with 10+ assists. He already matched last year’s total of triple-doubles with three including one on opening night.
While Harden’s and Westbrook’s usage percentage has increased, LeBron’s has gone down. He’s under a 30% usage for the first time since his sophomore season. Although his usage is down his assist percentage is up, way up. He’s at a career best 44.9% assist percentage so far this season.
In terms of individual games last season, he had three games with at least 60% or higher assist percentage including a season high of 75%. In just 15 games this season he has already matched those exact numbers. LeBron has always been a passer but he’s finding guys more than ever now.
The numbers are sure to pile up for these three as the season continues. All three guys are ranked in the top five in assists and they are the only guys with multiple triple-doubles on the season. If they all win 45+ games it should be an interesting MVP race down the stretch of the season.