Mar 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) stands on the court during the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: Is James Harden The Greatest Player Alive?

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Here we go.

With the NBA world slowing down right before it takes off again with preseason and training camps, we’re finally here, taking on the most beat up subject in the NBA and all of sports, The Greatest Player Alive.

A lot’s been made of this discussion since a kid from Akron, Ohio, was bound to take the Greatest Of All Time throne out of Michael Jordan‘s hands. LeBron James‘ high school games were filled with news crews waiting to get a glimpse at The Chosen One. (Note: I know James Harden‘s not talking about the GOAT as much as he is about the best player right now. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.)

Up to this day, people, and specially the media, seem unable to grasp the futility of comparing eras; the inherent differences that the game develops with time; the progression/evolution of player training; the pace of the game.

Bill Russell and/or Wilt Chamberlain‘s supporters never thought they’d see Magic Johnson and/or Larry Bird come and dethrone their idols. Magic and/or Bird’s supporters never thought they’d see Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and/or Michael Jordan dethrone them. Hakeem, Duncan and/or Jordan’s supporters have never grasped the possibility of Tim Duncan, LeBron James and/or Kevin Durant take their spots at the top.

Yes, it happens. It seems every era has had its greatest. Hell, every year has its greatest, that’s why we have Most Valuable Player awards each season. This, my friends, is exactly what James Harden is talking about, being the greatest player alive.

Let’s have a look at how Harden’s young NBA career matches up against the one of some of the best players in the NBA right now.

Rk Player G GS MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% AST STL TOV PTS
1 Tim Duncan 370 370 39.3 .509 .154 .513 .711 3.1 0.8 3.2 22.8
2 Kevin Durant 380 380 38.1 .468 .364 .496 .878 2.8 1.2 3.1 26.3
3 James Harden 371 158 31.4 .445 .369 .499 .849 3.9 1.3 2.5 18.0
4 LeBron James 391 390 41.1 .467 .324 .501 .728 6.6 1.8 3.3 27.3
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2014.

The Greatest Player Alive? Not quite.

Even though some may consider unfair to compare Harden to players who’ve led their teams since they came into the league, this only amounts to the foolishness surrounding Harden’s comments.

Of course, if you’re the Houston Rockets you’re thrilled at Harden’s comments. As a team you’d love to see this kind of confidence come out of your leader one of your team’s cornerstones.

If you’re one of the league’s top players, you’re looking forward to stopping the ripple created by Harden’s comments by proving otherwise.

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