Better overall scorer
The closest category between Steph and Harden comes in the form of overall scoring. Both players can get buckets at ease, as they’re two of the best scorers in the league. So frankly, you’d take either player if given the option, and you would be fine either way.
But if you were to quantify this to determine who the better overall scorer is between the two, the answer would be Harden. Like Curry, Harden is also lethal from long-range, as he’s led the league in treys during each of the last three seasons. But that’s not the only thing he has in his bag, which makes the difference.
Steph is a one-trick pony in that regard, as he’s essentially not able to contribute offensively if his shots aren’t falling. In fact, we’ve seen games where the Warriors have lost when Curry has had an off shooting night.
Harden has the uncanny ability to get to the free throw line at will. In fact, The Beard has averaged 10 points per game from the free throw line in each of the last two years, and his free throw attempts have actually increased in each of those years also.
Although many fans don’t necessarily enjoy watching that, he is getting fouled. But what may be surprising to many is the number of times Harden is fouled that actually don’t get called, which was on display during the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals matchup against Curry’s Warriors.
Harden has a textbook understanding of the rulebook and he knows how to draw fouls, which certainly can’t be said about Steph. We’ve seen several games this season where Harden has scored 40 points in spite of having a bad shooting night.
During the Rockets’ first game against the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, Harden scored 40 points despite going 8-for-21, due to him going 21-of-22 from the free throw line. He also had another 40 point game on an off shooting night during the Rockets’ January 8th matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
During that game, Harden scored 41 points despite going 9-of-34, because he went 19-of-23 from the foul line. Perhaps the best example of Harden being able to salvage a game from the charity stripe came against the San Antonio Spurs, as he scored 50 points on 11-of-37 from the floor.
Harden went a perfect 24-of-24 from the line during that game, which is insane. Harden is just as lethal from the free throw line as he is from behind the arc, which simply can’t be said about Curry.