Is Klay Thompson really better than James Harden?

The discussion of who’s a better player is always interesting, but most of the time, subjective. Everyone has their preferences and motives, so sometimes trying to figure out who’s a better player can be an everlasting argument that even statistics can’t put an end to. So today’s question is who’s the better player, James Harden or Klay Thompson?

Klay Thompson’s rise in this league has been very prevalent. He’s emerged as a star in this league turning his narrative as a spot-up shooter into a true scorer. James Harden has been known as one of the best scorers in this league. Offensively, there’s not much he can’t do and he has such a charisma with the ball that it makes him very difficult to guard. So with that being said, who are you picking?

Jason Terry, former teammate of James Harden made his opinion well known in an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio:

“He’s not leading s***”, Terry said of Klay Thompson. “If he doesn’t make shots, how effective is he? Go watch Klay Thompson vs. James Harden from last year and see what James did to him. Every time James got by him, you know who was there? Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut.”

“Let’s see what happens this time around”.

Jason Terry later went on to praise the shooting of Klay Thompson but also stated that there’s “no comparison” when putting him against James Harden.

Now, I’m not sure what Jason Terry has been watching but to say there’s no comparison is completely insane. These two guys are definitely comparable. Even though they have two different styles and are asked to do two different things on the floor, to say there is no comparison is ridiculous.

James Harden vs. Klay Thompson

James Harden vs. Klay Thompson Stats via NBA.com

Statistically, James Harden is better if we’re just looking at numbers. Harden was better than Klay in almost every category which would quickly make people believe he’s the better player. James is a great creator: getting his own shots and also getting others involved, averaging almost 8 assists during the regular season last year.

James Harden vs Klay Thompson

James Harden vs. Klay Thompson Stats via NBA.com

However, we critique players on both sides of the ball and that’s where things get interesting. To answer Jason Terry’s question of how effective is Klay when he’s not making shots is, defense. Klay Thompson is a great defender and has had his battles with Harden. As we know, James has been killed for his lack of effort on the defensive end. When comparing their defensive ratings Harden has a rating of 106.0 vs Thompson’s 99.7 rating. A big lead in defensive rating leads to their one sided net rating comparison where Klay has a net rating of 15.7 compared to Harden’s 1.2. Thompson exceeds Harden in the efficiency and defensive factor which is what makes this discussion so interesting.

Despite James Harden’s great numbers, I believe the comparison is close because we look at both sides of the ball. In my opinion, Jason Terry was making his statement based off Harden’s offensive game and not factoring the defensive side of the ball. And that’s why I think a lot of people are beginning to put Klay Thompson over James Harden. Offensively, we know James Harden has that side but Thompson provides both great offense and defense which is why some, including myself view him as the best shooting guard in today’s game.

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