“It’s just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan,” Morey said on the “Selfmade with Nadeshot” podcast.
Morey acknowledged that people “hate” his take but explained how the numbers support his statement.
“Based on literally, like 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. James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history,” Morey said on the podcast that was published Thursday.
Harden, the league’s MVP for the 2017-18 season and a two-time scoring champion, has increased his points per game average every season since 2013-14, culminating with his 36.1 last season.
Jordan, a 10-time scoring champ and five-time MVP, averaged over 30 points in eight of his 15 seasons in the NBA.
Harden has the statistical edge in advanced metrics. His effective field goal percentage, which accounts for the fact that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers, stands at 52.5 for his career compared to Jordan’s 50.9. Harden’s true shooting percentage, which factors in free throws, stands at 60.9 percent, while Jordan’s was at 56.9.
Harden wins out thanks to the sheer volume of 3-pointers he shoots in an era of offense vastly different from Jordan’s time. As a result, Morey’s point faces obvious criticism that if Jordan played now and shot more than his career average of 1.7 3-point attempts per game, he’d have numbers similar to or better than Harden’s.
“The counterargument is reasonable,” Morey conceded. “They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That’s possible. But if you’re just saying: ‘NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?’ It’s James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it’s literally a fact.”