Houston Rockets: How Pascal Siakam stacks up next to James Harden
If and when the Rockets trade James Harden, they won’t receive a player of equal talent in return for the former MVP. The reason is quite simple, Harden is the best offensive player in the league, and outside of a handful of players, he has no peers.
The Rockets’ hope is that in giving up quality they’ll receive enough quantity to offset Harden’s departure. While Pascal Siakam won’t be the only player or asset the Raptors send the Rockets way, he will almost certainly be the best piece the Rockets get in return.
Comparing the two is unfair to Siakam in many ways. Harden is a historically good player, while Siakam is a fantastic story of a player that worked his way to become an All-Star caliber player. All one needs to do is look at where the two were drafted to understand that the two are nowhere close to being equals.
As mentioned before, Siakam was drafted 27th overall, while Harden was the third overall pick in the 2009 draft. Put another way, Siakam was almost as close to being a second-round pick as Harden was to the first overall selection.
A players’ draft position is not their destiny, as the Raptors have proved time and time again, but historically, the higher a player gets drafted the better the career they have. Instead of zeroing in on the two’s draft pedigree, let’s focus on the past three seasons to see how stark of a difference there is between the two on the court.
Starting in 2018-19 when Siakam emerged as an All-Star caliber player and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award he has averaged 19.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 49.5-percent shooting from the field and 36-percent shooting from 3-point range. While these numbers are impressive, they pale in comparison to Harden’s averages of 34.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game on 44.3-percent shooting from the field and 36.2-percent shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
Siakam has the edge in rebounding and field goal percentage but considering that more than half of Harden’s shots come from 3-point range compared to Siakam taking just 28.6-percent of his shots from distance, the shooting difference is essentially negligible. To the surprise of no one, Harden is a far better player than Siakam and that probably will never change but that’s the precarious situation any team finds themselves in when they have to trade a franchise superstar.
However, when Siakam first emerged onto the stage he did so playing next to Kawhi Leonard, another true superstar player, but if traded to Houston he’d have to assume the heavier offensive load that he has shouldered the past two seasons. When zeroing in on this season and the previous one it becomes apparent that Siakam, at this stage of his career, is not suited to be a ball-dominant offensive force in the same ilk as James Harden.
Next: Is Siakam a franchise player?