How James Harden's 2018-19 numbers compare to his MVP campaign
His 2017-18 campaign may have been impressive, but reigning MVP James Harden is having a career year in 2018-19.
The Houston guard has been in incredible form for the 25-19 Rockets, scoring 30-plus points in an NBA-record 18 successive games and putting up a staggering 115 points in his last two appearances alone.
Harden led the league in scoring, three-pointers and 50-point games in a Houston team that won more regular-season matches than anyone in 2017-18, but the individual contribution of 'The Beard' has been even greater this term.
Here, we look at the numbers behind the man seemingly on course to win back-to-back MVP awards.
A plethora of points
Last season, through 41 matches, Harden was averaging 30.9 points per appearance. At the same point in this campaign, his average is up to 35.4.
No one had as many 50-point games as Harden's four last year, and he has already reached that haul this term thanks to his recent displays against the Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets.
The 29-year-old has also scored at least 40 points on 15 occasions, compared to 11 at the equivalent stage in 2017-18.
Assists, rebounds and efficiency
With six triple-doubles, Harden already has more than he did throughout his entire MVP campaign (four), with an average of 6.3 rebounds per fixture this time around compared to 4.9 boards last season.
And while he is undoubtedly the focal point of the Houston offense, Harden is in the league's top five for assists, though his average is down from 9.0 to 8.5 per game.
.@JHarden13 (58 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST) records his 2nd straight 50-point game for the @HoustonRockets! #Rockets— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2019
The last player to score 55+ PTS in consecutive games was Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. pic.twitter.com/LvGUedz3vb
His field-goal percentage has dropped marginally from 44.3 to 43.8 and he is proving slightly less effective beyond the arc - 38.7 per cent in 2017-18 to 37.5 per cent in 2018-19.
The Chris Paul effect
Harden's statistical explosion has happened when the Rockets have been without Chris Paul, who picked up a hamstring injury prior to Christmas.
In the last 13 contests without Paul, Harden has poured in a whopping 43.2 points per game, compared to 31.8 prior to his team-mate's injury, and he has failed to score fewer than 40 only four times.
Harden has averaged 16.9 shots from beyond the arc - sinking 6.2 per game - having averaged only 11.1 attempts before Paul went down.