The Houston Rockets are currently 27-24, and the offseason acquisition of guard James Harden has been essential to their early-season success. When considering his impact on the team, though, one cannot help but consider the fact that the Rockets may be a bit overreliant on their star.
When you look at his basic stat line, it's easy to see that Harden has been fantastic in 2012-13. He's averaging 25.8 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 44 percent shooting.
When looking at some of his advanced stats, it's clear that the Rockets are taking advantage of Harden's ability to create and score seemingly at will.
He currently sports an offensive rating (ORtg) of 114, well above last season's league average of 101.8. He stays involved in the offense even when he's not scoring as well. His percent of field goals assisted (%Ast) is currently 30.2 percent.
That figure may be under the league average of 61 percent, but he has proven that he is not a liability when the game plan doesn't call for him to score.
His player efficiency rating (PER) of 24.91 ranks eighth in the entire NBA. The league-average player has a PER of 14.0, so he's performing exceptionally well when considering his numbers.
Even with his strong numbers, there's one advanced statistic that trumps the rest. Win shares (WS), the amount of wins out of a team’s total for which a player is accountable, has proven that he is not actually as valuable as we are led to believe.
His WS is 7.78. Over 40 players in the NBA rank ahead of him—names like Shawn Marion, Larry Sanders and Omer Asik make the list. These guys have not produced anywhere near the level of Harden, so then why is his number of win shares so low?
It's because the Rockets are too reliant on him.
Harden's usage (USG) is 29.29 percent. That means that nearly 30 percent of the Rockets plays include Harden in some capacity.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant, two players with higher USGs, have WS marks of 14.93 an 13.89, respectively.
Harden accounts for 24 percent of the Rockets' total offense—they average 105.8 points per game. For a player that is that essential to a team's game, he better be worth more than just eight or so win shares.
Harden is undoubtedly one of the top breakout stars of the 2012-13 season. Even so, the Rockets are being too reliant on him to win them games. For the amount of time he handles the ball, he has not delivered enough wins to the team.
If they worked the offense a different way that had him touching the ball a few less times, Harden would actually be a more useful player in terms of advanced statistics.
*All advanced statistics courtesy of hoopdata.com*
**Need a glossary for advanced statistics? Well, here you go.**