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Better offensive player: Michael Jordan or the Rockets’ James Harden?

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Michael Jordan Mandatory Credit: John Gichigi /Allsport

Slashing

Even though James Harden relies on the 3-pointer a little too much, people tend to forget how good he is when driving to the rack. His offensive arsenal is one of the best you’ll see in the entire league today.

The occasional euro-step, floater and sometimes even throwing the hammer down makes Harden’s slashing game a joy to watch. But again, that is when he isn’t deciding to chuck up a contested step back 3-pointer.

In Harden’s earlier years in Houston, his go-to offensive strategy was driving to the paint. Harden’s ability to get to the paint isn’t the concern here. It’s more of the fact that he simply doesn’t utilize it as much as he should.

In Harden’s first year as a Rocket, 63.6 percent of his shots were two-point field goals. 30 percent of those two-point attempts were from zero-to-three feet away from the basket.

In the 2019-20 season, Harden shot only 44.5 percent of his shots from inside the 3-point line. The drastic change in his style of play is quite evident.

As for Michael Jordan, his game relied heavily on his slashing ability and mid-range game, which I will dive more into later. Jordan’s slashing game is what made Jordan most effective on the offensive side of the ball.

Jordan’s ability to finish inside no matter the circumstance is mind-blowing. Jordan also played in an era filled with dominant big men protecting the paint. Names like Dikembe Mutumbo, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal and Patrick Ewing.

Also, let’s not forget about the Bad Boy era Pistons, who were known to rough up Jordan whenever he slashed to the paint. Jordan had to deal with a lot of interior presence when driving and still dominated in a way nobody has ever seen before.

To put it all into perspective, Jordan’s highest-scoring season was in 1986-87 when he averaged 37 points per game. He hit only hit 12 threes out of 66 attempted that season.

Harden’s highest-scoring season was last year when he averaged 36 points per game. Harden hit 378 threes out of 1028 last year. See the difference?

Winner: Michael Jordan

Next: Mid-range & 3-Point Shooting

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