Is James Harden in the Same Breath as Kobe Bryant


Harden doesn’t play with an angry passion or edge like his former teammate Russell Westbrook and childhood idol Kobe Bryant. He doesn’t have the sharp outside shooting touch of Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. His game is one of hard earned grit. He scores on drives, contact and step-back jumpers. His playmaking abilities get lost sometimes, thanks to his will to score from different places on the floor. Harden grew up looking up to Kobe Bryant as a kid. He grew up in the Los Angeles area watching Kobe play as he was 7 when Bryant debuted for the Lakers in 1996.

Believe it or not, Kobe Bryant and James Harden are actually extraordinarily similar type players. I don’t want to get into any statistical debates due to the longevity of Kobe Bryant playing in the NBA for 20 seasons compared to Harden’s eight. We all know about the five rings, the all-team defenses, the killer instinct all Kobe fans love to bring up. I’m not saying that Harden is a carbon copy of Bryant like Bryant was to Jordan. For example, Harden does not take nearly as many shots from mid-range as Bryant did. However, the drives and strong finishes are definitely still there. The jacked up threes that miraculously fall in a manner that only Stephen Curry can recreate are definitely still there. The ego, cockiness, and belief that they are the best ever are definitely still there.

I believe that Harden shouldn’t be considered the next Bryant. Can he become as good OFFENSIVELY as Bryant was? Definitely. Can he become the league’s villain, the one player whose fans are nearly only from his own team while most others hate him? With the ego that he has been showing since becoming the primary option for the Rockets, yes. Will he deliver as many signature clutch performances as Bryant did? Well, he has been racking up great performances in his career so far, and he has plenty of time to rack up more.

Kobe Bryant had seasons of averaging 28, 30, 31, and 35 PPG. ( those are just some of his top averages over his 20 year span.) He finished for his career at 25 PPG. He was the closest thing that the league had ever seen since Jordan. And he finished his career arguably in the top 10 greatest players of all time convo. In the peak of Kobe he was the ultimate scorer, the No.1 shooting guard for many years in the league. No one defender could contain him on nightly basis. And most of all what separates Bryant from Harden is the huge gap on defense.

James Harden has had seasons of averaging 25, 27, 29, and 29 PPG this season. His way of scoring is a bit different with him arguably getting to the line almost regularly every night. James Harden is more of a playmaker as Kobe was more of an assassin scorer. James Harden validated himself as the best two guard in the game the last 4-5 seasons. This season he was moved to point guard to dominate the ball more but is still averaging 29+ PPG. He is having an incredible MVP caliber type season almost averaging a triple double and leading the Rockets to an on pace 60 wins. He’s defiantly having a Kobe like season, and maybe even a better overall season from a statistical stand point then Kobe Bryant ever had.

Even though Harden is definitely the closest comparison to Kobe today, I don’t think he is in the same breath as the Black Mamba. Maybe as he gets older, some of his qualities keep developing and change for the better.

About Emanuel Godina

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