James Harden vs. Stephen Curry – The Next Great NBA Rivalry
By Coty Davis
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”-Harden
Forget LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, if you’re looking for the next individual rivalry of the league, no need to look any further than Stephen Curry vs James Harden. The two best guards in the NBA today. It seems like being voted MVP by his peers was not satisfying enough for the bearded one.
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In an interview with NBA.com, Harden admitted that losing to Curry in last season’s MVP race is still a tough pill to swallow. Although Curry had one of the best seasons in league history, I cannot blame Harden for feeling the way he does.
Last year no player in the league was more valuable to their team than James Harden. Despite the injuries Houston dealt with, he led the Rockets on a phenomenal season.
Harden averaged 27.4 points, 7.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game, led the Rockets to their first division championship since 1994, captured the number two seed in the West, and came just one round away from reaching the NBA Finals.
When Curry had his chance to respond to Harden’s comment, the baby face assassin kept his response short and not so lovable:
“I try not to do a lot of talking, especially regarding things that have passed. Obviously, you’ve got to motivate yourself and I’m sure he’s motivated this year to do some special things. I’m the same way. I’m obviously confident in what I do, and I know he’s confident in what he does. It might come out in a different way.” –Curry
Clearly, Curry has a lot of confidences in himself heading into the new season. Just checkout this extraordinary play from his first preseason game Monday night.
Without a doubt, the Curry vs. Harden debate will continue this season, and for years to come. In my opinion, they are quickly emerging as the top two players from their 2009 Draft class. With all due respect to Blake Griffin who was drafted number one in 09. The lack of success from the disoriented Los Angeles Clippers will keep Griffin from the debate as the best player in his class.
May 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts during the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
In a head-to-head comparison of their respective NBA careers, Curry has a slight advantage over Harden so far. Hopefully, “the bearded one” can back up his claim as the best player in the world, because the “Baby Face Assassin” is looking like the top chef at the moment. Numbers never lie.
In their first six seasons, Curry is averaging 20.9 points, 6.9 assist, and 1.7 steals, to Harden’s 19.7 points, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Even in the postseason Curry’s numbers are better with 25.9 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.8 steals to Harden’s 19.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
Of course some can argue that Curry’s numbers are better than Harden because he did not play behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in OKC. Remember when Harden was dominating the league as the Thunder’s Sixth Man, Curry’s career was in jeopardy after suffering a few gruesome ankle injuries.
Both players have established themselves as two of the top shooters in the league. Harden has a career shooting percentage of 44 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point, and 85 percent from the free throw line. Unfortunately, it is not a surprise that Curry’s shooting percentages are better than Harden’s. Curry’s shooting percentages consist of 47 percent from the field, 44 from 3-point, and 90 percent from the free throw line.
Even in their season match up over the years, Curry has taken home more victories than Harden. Last season, Harden and the Rockets lost 0-4 against the Golden State Warriors during the regular season by an average of 15.3 points. Some can argue that Curry had the better team since Dwight Howard only played in half of their regular season matches. However, in the postseason even with the league’s best center on his side, Harden still lost to Curry and his Warriors 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals. Plus with one NBA title already added to his name, this definitely gives Curry the upper hand in this personal rivalry.
Curry and Harden will meet three-times during the regular season, but their first match-up will be this coming Wednesday in a preseason game. I’m expecting some good duels between the two this season, and some classic performances for years to come. I understand Harden’s anger for losing the MVP last season, and no player deserved it more than him. However, I hope Harden is even angrier about Curry winning the title, then worrying about one personal accolade.
Make Space City Scoop a daily stop for all your Houston Rockets news. This weekend we offer more Player Profiles and the Awards segment of our Round Table Series, where we appropriately predict who’ll win the 2015-16 MVP and all the other hardware.
Next: James Harden Player Profile
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