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James Harden and Jimmy Butler's impact on the 2019-20 season analysed

Houston Rockets guard James Harden attacks Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat off the dribble
Image: Houston Rockets guard James Harden attacks Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat off the dribble

NBA.com stats guru John Schuhmann continues his look at notable numbers from the 2019-20 season, focusing on James Harden and Jimmy Butler.

The James Harden Club

James Harden gestures during the Rockets' win over the Timberwolves
Image: James Harden gestures during the Rockets' win over the Timberwolves

The stat

James Harden has made 27 more three-pointers (271) and 138 more free throws (619) than any other player.

The context

This is the sixth straight season in which Harden has made at least 200 triples and 600 free throws. Only two other players have ever done it: Gilbert Arenas with the Wizards in the 2006-07 season) and Russell Westbrook (Thunder, 2016-17), who nailed exactly 200 threes to make the cut.

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Check out James Harden's best plays from this season's NBA

Arenas was ahead of his time. He also came one three-pointer shy of the 200/600 Club in 2005-06. Isaiah Thomas (245 3PM, 590 FTM; Celtics, 2016-17) and Kevin Durant (192, 703; Thunder, 2013-14) have also come close.

These days, reaching 600 made free throws is tougher than the 200 made three-pointers. Over the last five seasons (including this one), there have been 50 instances of a player making at least 200 threes, but only six of a player making at least 600 free throws (Harden five times and Westbrook in 2016-17).

Also See:

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James Harden posted a 41-point triple-double to lead the Houston Rockets to a 122-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks

To get to 600 free throws made, you have to average exactly eight in 75 games. Before the season was suspended, Hawks All-Star Trae Young had already eclipsed the 200 three-pointer mark while averaging 8.02 made free throws - though he had missed exactly seven of the Hawks' 67 games.

Expect Young, and maybe fellow sophomore Luka Doncic, to join the James Harden Club at some point in the future.

Jordan's Last Dance on Sky Q from April 20

Jordan's Last Dance on Sky Q from April 20

Watch The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary on the 1997-98 Bulls, on Netflix via your Sky Q box

Bad Jimmy, good Jimmy

Jimmy Butler signals to a team-mate during the Heat's win over the Wizards
Image: Jimmy Butler signals to a team-mate during the Heat's win over the Wizards

The stat

Jimmy Butler has an effective field goal percentage of 33.8 per cent on shots from outside the paint, the worst mark (by a wide margin) among 183 players who have taken at least 200 shots from the outside.

The context

Butler's issues from the outside have been three-fold.

  1. Butler is one of 12 players with at least 200 attempts from outside the paint and more mid-range attempts than three-point attempts, so he is not maximising his points per attempt.
  2. Butler has shot 49-for-158 (31.0 per cent) from mid-range, the second-worst mark among 79 players with at least 100 mid-range attempts.
  3. Butler has shot 29-for-117 (24.8 per cent) from three-point range, the third-worst mark among 242 players with at least 100 three-point attempts.

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Jimmy Butler haunted his former team with a season-high 38 points as he led the Miami Heat to an emphatic win against the Philadelphia 76ers

Butler's poor shooting has extended to clutch situations. On shots when the score is within five points during the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, he has an effective field goal percentage (eFG) of 30.8 per cent, the worst mark among 71 players with at least 30 attempts. He is 14-for-40 (35 per cent) on clutch two-pointers and 3-for-20 (15 per cent) on clutch three-pointers, the second-worst mark among 40 players who have attempted at least 20.

Butler is tied (with Zach LaVine) for the league lead with 15 field goal attempts to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime, but he has made just one of those 15 shots.

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Jimmy Butler blew a kiss goodbye to TJ Warren after the Pacers forward was ejected following a confrontation between the pair during the Miami Heat's victory over Indiana

But Butler ranks 46th in true shooting percentage (which measures overall scoring efficiency) among 137 players with at least 500 total field goal attempts. His eFG of of 58.3 per cent is slightly above the league average (56.4 per cent).

While Butler has shot poorly from the perimeter, he has taken just 38 per cent of his shots - the lowest rate of his career - from outside the paint. While he has not shot as well in the paint as he had during the previous few seasons, his 55.8 per cent this season ranks a tick above the league average. He has scored 1.40 points per possession in transition, the second-best mark among 101 players who have averaged at least two transition possessions per game.

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Drawing fouls is a big component of Butler's efficiency, in transition and otherwise. He has got to the line for a career-high 9.1 free throw attempts per game. He has a free throw rate of 67.9 attempts per 100 shots from the field, the second-highest rate among 229 players with at least 300 field goal attempts (trailing only Rudy Gobert) and up from 40.4 last season. That's the biggest jump among 200 players with at least 250 field goal attempts in each of the last two seasons.

On the other end of the floor, Butler is one of two players (Memphis' Tyus Jones is the other) that have played at least 750 minutes and have more steals (92) than personal fouls (74).

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Jimmy Butler contributed a triple-double to lead the Miami Heat to an overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks

Despite poor perimeter shooting from both Butler and Derrick Jones Jr (who ranks third-worst in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage, league-worst in corner three-point percentage), the Heat are tied for the league lead in three-point percentage (38.3 percent).

Miami also rank third offensively vs the league's top 10 defenses (110.6 points scored per 100 possessions in 24 games) and have had the league's second-most improved offense overall, scoring 5.5 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season.

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