Just a few years ago, the Brooklyn Nets had next to no one on their roster.
Brooklyn is now the number three team in the Eastern Conference with a 24-12 record and a darn good shot of making the Finals.
There is little doubt that Durant is the MVP of the team but the question has always been about Irving and Harden.
Which of these two All-Stars are better suited for the future of the Nets?
Now that Irving is back again after months sidelined by his COVID-19 vaccination status, this question is popping up again.
When it’s time to break down Harden versus Irving on a statistical basis, you can see a lot of similarities as well as a lot of differences.
Irving has won an NBA championship, Harden has not.
Irving has played in five playoffs, Harden has played in 13.
Meanwhile, Irving has appeared in seven All-Star Games, Haden in nine.
Irving was named Rookie of The Year, Harden was selected as NBA MVP.
When you look at it that way, the players are pretty similar although Irving has a championship ring, which most people feel edges out the other stats.
And then there are on-court numbers, where Harden is a bit ahead of Irving.
Harden averages 25 points a game, Irving 22.8.
Also, Harden completes 5.6 rebounds on average, while Irving makes 3.8.
Assists: Harden with 6.6, Irving with 5.7.
Finally, Harden has landed 22,766 points during his career while Irving has made 13,315.
Based solely on the numbers, Harden is a better player than Irving – but of course, there is so much more to this question than just that.
So Harden might be more important when it comes to numbers, but who does more for the heart and soul and chemistry of the team?
If Irving’s latest drama is any indication, he definitely loses in this category.
As many people have pointed out, Irving refusing to step up and get his COVID vaccine was a blow against his teammates.
He was putting himself above the well-being of the team and that is obviously not part of the next man up mentality that Nash stresses.
"I've been covering the NBA now for almost 25 years. This is some of the stupidest nonsense I've ever seen. Just flat-out stupid."@stephenasmith reacts to the latest reports on Kyrie Irving. pic.twitter.com/zmAGP2oM3x
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 13, 2021
That’s not to say that Harden hasn’t been selfish himself in the past: when he wanted to leave the Houston Rockets, he supposedly gained weight and refused to play to his full potential.
But when you look at the two men today, it becomes quite clear that Harden has more of a fire in his belly to win.
"James Harden looks about 10-12 lbs overweight and came in with no training camp to drop 44 and 17. I've never, ever seen anything like Harden. It's ridiculous."@ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/fTbILoL70u
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 29, 2020
Perhaps it’s because he’s never won a Finals but Harden seems more driven and dedicated to his team.
That’s not to say that Irving is completely checked out but Harden has proven himself to be more driven to win – and that’s what makes him more important to the future of the team.