Among the many things to be decided on the final day of the NBA regular season will be the league’s scoring title, with Russell Westbrook trying to fend off James Harden, although actually making the playoffs is more important.
Of course, when it comes to Westbrook, it’s not like he’s going to give up on shots if he knows it makes his team better. Westbrook plays in one way, one gear, one state of mind. It’s some weird combination of insane self confidence, arrogance, zero trust in his teammates and also some selfishness. Obviously, he has plenty of numbers to back him up, but his performances do come at a cost of turnovers and missed shots that turn into easy baskets on the other end.
So right now Westbrook is averaging 28.01 points per game. Harden is at 27.51. Harden has more points, but he has played 14 more games than Westbrook, who is at 1849 total points compared to Harden’s 2201.
Since the beginning of February, Westbrook is averaging 31.2 points per game while shooting 42.7% from the field. It’s almost a triple double average (8.6 rebounds, 9.8 assists) but he also turns the ball over five times per game. Over that time frame Harden is averaging 28.3 points per game, shooting 42.3% from the field. Westbrook, just by the numbers, is hotter right now.
And expect Westbrook to take a lot of shots in the final game against the Timberwolves as well. He took 40 shots over the last two games and 29 or more field goal attempts five times in the last three weeks.
Harden, who gets to the line more than Westbrook, is averaging just 19.1 field goal attempts per game this month. Things might change as the Rockets have something to play for and his teammates might be pushing as hard as possible for Harden to win the scoring title, but it’s not like Harden doesn’t do whatever he wants to on the floor anyway. He only restrains himself better than Westbrook, and follows a clear offensive plan.
Who ends up winning this one? Just for the sake of argument, based on his average this month, lets assume Westbrook scores 32 points. That will put Westbrook at 28.07 points per game. For Harden to beat that, he’ll need 73 points. Possible? Sure, but considering that’s been done only six times in NBA history by three different players, Harden needs something really special to happen.