The Rockets slipped from view last year going 41-41 after contending in earnest for the NBA Finals the year before. Here’s one factor: in Relative Pace — a measure of the team’s possessions per 48 minutes relative to the league — the Rockets scored a 1.8 in 2015-16. The previous three season that number was 2.6, 2.4 and 4.1. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni is in Houston to make sure that number goes up like a — well like a Rocket. James Harden will have the ball in hand and more possessions than a Saudi king.
Harden is arguably the best scorer in the NBA. Last year he led the league in minutes played too. He averaged a career high 29 points a game, shooting an average of 19.7 shots game. Harden would need 11 more ppg to hit 40, but it’s totally plausible. In 1986-87 Michael Jordan averaged 27.8 shots a game with less than one 3-point attempt per. Harden averaged eight 3-point attempts last year. Jordan scored 37.1 ppg that year, the highest single season average by any player not named Wilt Chamberlain. If Harden amp’d his shot attempts per game to near Jordan levels (27.8) that would mean eight more shots — he could even get more. Scoring 29 per game on 19.7 attempts last year, Harden essentially averaged about 15 points for every ten attempts. If Harden wants to average 40, D’Antoni is the perfect enabler.