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

Anthony Duckett
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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Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets
Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jordan vs. Harden: Scoring Titles and Usage Rate

Jordan has 10 scoring titles on his career and Harden only has 2 up to this point in his career. Does that mean Jordan was a better scorer than Harden? No, because Harden is nowhere close to being done playing. Harden has the type of game that could very well last late into his 30s, as his game is not based off of elite athleticism. It’s based more off of craftiness, volume three point shooting, and an unprecedented ability to draw fouls, so we don’t know how many more scoring titles Harden will have in his career.

In addition, Jordan only led the league in usage rate in only 1 of those 10 seasons where he led the league in scoring, whereas Harden has had the highest usage rate in the NBA in both of the years he won scoring titles. The usage rate is important because it illustrates how much more help Jordan has had than Harden, and how he hasn’t had to do as much as Harden has had due to his supporting cast being significantly stronger than Harden’s, particularly in Houston. This past year, Harden had a usage rate of 40.5, which is higher than Jordan ever had in 15 years.

This again just makes the argument of how different the eras were for each player because it’s quite possible that Jordan would have been able to do even more in today’s league! It’s also possible that Harden would have scored even more back then due to his three point shooting ability and his unstoppable step back jumper. But we also don’t know if Harden would have been shooting threes in the 80s and 90s because essentially no one was. Jordan had 6 seasons in which he attempted 55 or fewer three point field goals, whereas Harden actually had 4 games this past season alone where he attempted at least 20 three pointers.

Next: Offensive Win Shares

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