James Harden is Having the Best Scoring Season in NBA History

PJ Tucker, James Harden, John Collins
James Harden flexes over PJ Tucker. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

James Harden is currently averaging 38.5 points per game this season. On Wednesday he had a 41-point triple-double in a Rockets win over the Atlanta Hawks. It's just the latest insane game in what is is arguably the greatest scoring season in NBA history.

Harden is averaging a career-high and he leads the league's second-leading scorer, Giannis Antetonkounmpo, by 8.3 points per game. It is the most points anyone has averaged since Michael Jordan averaged a career-high 37.1 points per game during the '86-'87 season. Before Jordan, you have to go all the way back to Wilt Chamberlain averaging 44.8 points in the '62-'63 season. No one ever averaged 35 points per game in the ABA.

As it stands, Harden is averaging the fourth-most points per game in NBA history behind Chamberlain, Chamberlain and Chamberlain. When you add in last season, Harden owns two of the eight highest single-season scoring averages in NBA history. Wilt and Michael are the other two guys in the top 8. Rick Barry and Kobe Bryant round out the top 10.

Kobe was 27 when he averaged his career-high. Jordan was 23. Wilt was 26. Rick Barry was 22. Harden is 30. Everything about what Harden is doing - from when to how - is unprecedented.

He is shooting nearly twice as many three-pointers per game than Kobe did (13.7 vs. 6.5). He's shooting more free throws per 36 minutes than Wilt Chamberlain (12.1 vs. 10.5).

And he's doing it in fewer minutes than any of them. Wilt Chamberlain put up his insane numbers in a league that featured 9 total teams. He played 47.6 minutes a game and took 34 shots a night. Wilt played nearly 10 more minutes per game and took 10 more shots a night to score 6 more points per game. And before you blame it all on his absurd 3-point shooting, note that Harden has a better shooting percentage on 2-pointers than Wilt did. (.528 vs. .551)

You have to go back another year to '61-'62 when Wilt averaged 50.4 points per game (in 48.5 minutes a game!?) for Chamberlain to beat Harden in points and free throw attempts per 36 minutes.

There is a long way to go this season, but if Harden comes close to keeping this pace and efficiency, this should probably be considered the greatest scoring season in NBA history.