Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Kendrick Perkins Is Right: Harden Is Better Than Curry
Illustration: AP

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a live NBA game. But Monday NBA Twitter was acting like it caught amnesia when the topic on the table was determining who was better: Steph Curry or James Harden.

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Kendrick Perkins came to the defense of his former Oklahoma City teammate when the topic came up for debate on ESPN’s First Take. And the Twittersphere had a lot to say, even if it was rooted in surface-level arguments.

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But the problem in the Twitter world is the premise for the conversation — who plays for the best team — which is not what was being debated on First Take. Forget the Rockets and Warriors, who is the better player: Steph Curry or James Harden?

If you watch Perkins’ comments, he notes that Harden is the better scorer, facilitator, and rebounder, while Curry is the better shooter. I will add that Curry doesn’t have to do as much facilitating in the Warriors offense, because of their system, one which pushes the Warriors to constantly move and pass the basketball. The scheme puts defenses in a chaotic soup and any player spaced around the floor can knock down a jumper — likely even a 3-pointer.

Perkins continued: “Even in James Harden’s MVP season in 2018, when he averaged 36 points a game, it still wasn’t his best season. His best season was in 2016-17 when he averaged 29 points, 8 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. And might I tell you he led the league in assists that year.”

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Folks shot back, saying Curry has “revolutionized” the point guard position, completely negating the fact that the Warriors, as a collective, have been one of the best teams ever constructed. And dismissing what Durant did for that team — leading them to two of Curry’s three rings — is discounting how loaded the Warriors were in those three seasons. And Steph has never been named Finals MVP.

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Also, might I add, in the three seasons KD was with the Warriors, Steph wasn’t even the best player on his own team.

But somehow folks are arriving at the conclusion that Curry has “revolutionized” the game.

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Please make it make sense.

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“Well, what about the Finals the Warriors went to before KD?” you may ask.

Yes, what about it. During the 2015 postseason, Curry and the Warriors were facing teams with point guards who were injured either during the series or prior to it. That includes Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in the Finals. None of this is Curry’s fault, but we can’t just ignore the circumstances.

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Look, I give it to Curry lovers: he is probably a better defender than Harden. We’ve seen, time and time again, Harden completely check out on that end of the floor — which has been the only knock on his game.

But it’s a disservice to basketball if you dismiss this fact: Harden leads the league all-time in 50-point triple-doubles. He beats triple-double machine Russell Westbrook in that category.

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“When I look at the all-around and the all-around player and the skill set, and who brings more to the table, it’s James Harden,” Perkins concluded.

You can love Steph Curry’s game and still acknowledge that he is not better than James Harden. Either way, they’ll both end up close by one another in the Hall of Fame.

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