If you’re wondering who Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey believes is the greatest scorer ever, you might be surprised by his answer.
While speaking on the trade that led to the Rockets acquiring James Harden in 2012 during the eSports podcast, “Selfmade with Nadeshot,” Morey didn’t hold back in his belief that Harden is a better scorer than the best player in NBA history, none other than Hall-of-Fame great Michael Jordan.
Don’t believe me? Check out Morey’s comments for yourself where he attempts to justify why his franchise star is indeed the superior scorer to Jordan.
“If you looked at data [in 2012], once he had the ball in his hands, and it’s still true to this day, I get a lot of s— because someone asked me, ‘Who’s a better scorer, him or Michael Jordan?’ It’s just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan now, Morey said when asked about trading for Harden.
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Morey Explains James Harden vs. Michael Jordan Argument
Morey continued to defend his claim, expanding his argument by citing that Harden generates more points per offensive possession than Jordan did during his heyday with the Chicago Bulls.
“Based on the math? You give James Harden the ball, and before you’re giving up the ball, how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense.”
And of course, he didn’t stop there. Not only is Harden a better scorer than Jordan, he is also the best scorer in NBA history — yes, better than Wilt Chamberlain, a guy who averaged 50 points per game in a single season.
“James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history, and he was No. 1 even at the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Morey said. “It’s just he was coming off the bench and he was a little more hidden, so you needed good data to suss that out. So, we knew he had that amazing skill to be a scorer.”
We all know that Morey is sipping the Kool-Aid for Harden and the Rockets. And why wouldn’t he feel good entering this season? Houston actually has a legit shot at winning a championship this season with the reunion of Harden and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
Harden vs. Jordan: Who Has the Edge?
Just as important is the fact that it’s likely that the Rockets don’t have to defeat the Golden State Warriors — the team that’s eliminated them from the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.
With that said, are we really going to agree with Morey’s assessment that Harden is the best scorer in NBA history? The raw numbers favor Jordan’s peak (37.1 points per game on 48.2 percent from the field in 1986-87) over Harden’s peak (36.1 points per game on 44.2 percent from the field in 2018-19).
It is true that Harden’s 3-point shooting is far superior to Jordan’s — 36.5 percent from 3-point land in comparison to MJ’s 32.7 percent from beyond the arc — but the efficiency and the overall scoring still favor the Bulls legend.
I’m not even bringing up the argument that favors Jordan of facing stiffer competition — literally. Hand-checking was encouraged back in the 80’s and 90’s, something that Harden doesn’t have to worry about in the physicality-free nature of today’s NBA.
Morey’s background is in advanced sports metrics. So maybe there’s some advanced metric that favors Harden over Jordan when it comes to points per possession when factoring in scoring, 3-pointers and assists.
It’s no secret that Harden is a better 3-point shooter and playmaker than Jordan. Which is why Morey started deviating from the original argument of Harden being a better scorer than Jordan and started stressing the point that Harden is a better offensive player than MJ.
But this is moreso a case of a team general manager fluffing up his star player before a do-or-die season for a Rockets team facing an immense amount of pressure to finally crack their glass ceiling of coming up just short of the NBA Finals.
Will this tactical strategy by Morey work?
The only way we’ll find out is when the Larry O’Brien Trophy is hoisted next June.
And whether or not Harden is the one at the center of it.
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