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Houston Rockets: Detailing why it’s unfair to compare Jordan vs. Harden

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks at the scoreboard in the second quarter during Game Three of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks at the scoreboard in the second quarter during Game Three of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks at the scoreboard in the second quarter during Game Three of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks at the scoreboard in the second quarter during Game Three of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that James Harden is a better offensive player than Michael Jordan, which has prompted endless debates. Here’s an in-depth analysis of each, which in my opinion shows each player is/was the best scorer of their respective eras. It also serves as a reminder of why it’s impossible to compare different eras.

Daryl Morey is in the news again for making another statement regarding James Harden that many vehemently disagree with. Surprise! Morey was recently talking about James Harden’s offensive brilliance and where he ranks all-time with his ability to score. Below is the exact interview, provided as courtesy of Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.

Daryl Morey: "It's just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan…You give James Harden the ball and before you're giving up the ball how many points do you generate, which is how you should measure offense, James Harden is by far #1 in NBA history." pic.twitter.com/91A9ij3wRc

— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) August 15, 2019

Morey specifically stated that Harden is better than Jordan in regards to his scoring abilities, which has drawn an uproar. Whether we agree or not, we have to keep in mind the totality of his statement as I’ve seen many are twisting this to mean something he didn’t say. Morey never said Harden was a better player than Jordan or even that Jordan wasn’t a great scorer himself, he just said that Harden is a better scorer based on the definition of how many points are generated before giving up the ball.

What I will certainly say is that his definition is certainly questionable. The argument is unfair in general, because we can never compare different eras as the style of play was much different during Jordan’s playing days. On top of that, the way the game was called was even more different than it is today. Morey even noted this also during his statement, which is why I feel he is drawing too much scrutiny, as he noted the counter being that Jordan could probably do much more today.

But let’s get into the analytics of the Harden vs. Jordan debate and see how they compare. We’ll measure the following in total: each of their abilities to get to the line and draw fouls, the three point shooting abilities of the two, the difference in scoring titles, the offensive win shares, offensive box plus/minus, the true shooting percentage of each, and the career scoring average of both. Let’s get started.

Next: Free Throw Shooting

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