Does Simmons know what he’s talking about?
In the 2009 NBA Draft, Harden was selected third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Curry was selected seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors. Regardless of who you’d select first in hindsight, there are a few things we should point from Simmons’ statement.
For starters, it’s a bit lofty to imply that the Warriors could put anyone around Curry and they would “be okay”, as Simmons states, because the Dubs’ first title came in the 2014-15 season in which they faced an injury-riddled Cleveland Cavaliers unit. If you recall, Kevin Love missed the entire series and Kyrie Irving only played in Game 1 of the series.
In spite of those losses, the Cavs still pushed the Warriors to six games in that series, even though the Dubs had three All-Stars on that group. In the following season when the Warriors faced a fully healthy Cavs team, they were defeated by Cleveland, as LeBron and Kyrie proved to be impossible to stop. It wasn’t until the Warriors added Kevin Durant that they won two consecutive titles, and how difficult could it have been with five future Hall of Famers on the same roster?
But even aside from that, Curry’s role has been simplified to being a marksman from deep, which he certainly is. The Dubs’ offense has been facilitated through Draymond Green, and they’ve been able to hide Curry on the defensive end because of elite defenders such as Green, Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson. Harden, by comparison, has had to do it all, and has both led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons and even led the league in assists as well.
If we’re making the argument of which player could lift their team regardless of the surrounding pieces, that’s certainly Harden. Although the Rockets have had fairly good teams over the years (some better than others), they’ve never had nearly the assortment of talent that Curry’s championship Warriors teams have had.
Much has been made of Game 6 of the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals between the Rockets and the Warriors, in which Curry went scoreless in the first half and scored 33 points in the second half. But the reality is, if the tables were turned and Harden went scoreless in the first half of a playoff game, the Houston Rockets would likely be down immensely, as opposed to the Warriors being tied 57-57. This is further proof of how much easier Curry’s job has been, in comparison to Harden’s.
Simmons has been known to have a bias against the Houston Rockets over the years, and it’s hard to not envision the bias playing a part in this selection here.