The Houston Rockets are 19-4 and own the best record in the Western Conference. James Harden is averaging 31.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 9.4 assists and has arguably been the MVP frontrunner this year while guiding his team with historic numbers.
In every single game of the season, Harden has had 20-plus points and seven-plus assists, now expanding his own NBA record on a nightly basis.
However, he isn’t the only reason why the Rockets are off to a hot start.
Co-star Chris Paul has been limited to just nine games due to an early-season injury, but in those games, his presence has been extremely beneficial, as the team has gone 9-0 compared to 10-4 without him.
Based on the prolific ball-handling skills of both Harden and Paul, Houston’s three-point shooters have been on a tear. The Rockets lead the NBA in wide margins in both three-pointers made (16.2) and attempted (44.0) per contest. In fact, Harden (11.0), Eric Gordon (9.9), Ryan Anderson (7.1), Trevor Ariza (7.1) and Paul (5.0) have all averaged five or more three-point attempts per game.
When Paul has been on the court, one player in particular has benefitted in an unbelievable fashion.
In the eight games in which Paul has played in after making his return on November 16, Anderson has shot 57.6 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from three. Additionally, Paul has assisted on 25 of Anderson’s 38 made shots during that span, including 21 of 27 three-pointers (77.8 percent), per ESPN's Tim MacMahon.
On Thursday night against the Utah Jazz, Anderson dropped 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. Paul assisted on six of those buckets, including all five made threes.
"That's why I'm here -- to shoot the ball around guys that are great playmakers," Anderson said after the game. "Having him here has just opened up the court so much more for me and all of our shooting ability. For me, it's just easier looks."
"He hits me from the instant I'm open, which just helps me as a shooter,” Anderson said of Paul. “Those are the moments where I know that I'm going to get the ball from him, and when I get it, it's pretty much directly at the numbers. Obviously, he's Chris Paul. He's a great playmaker who helps me a lot.”
"He's been in the league long enough to know what he's capable of, so his value to our team is, even when he's not getting those shots, they've still got to guard him out there,” Paul said of Anderson. “When Ryan's standing at the 3-point line, you're not offering help because you know he's got a quick trigger.”
On the season, Anderson ranks fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 12.7 points per game. Based on his recent success, he now leads the team in three-point shooting accuracy at 42.3 percent.
From what the small sample size between Paul and Anderson has shown, it seems like they will mutually benefit from being on the court together.
The Rockets are playing a completely different brand of basketball than anyone else and, so far, it has worked beautifully.