By: Rahat Huq
I've had seven hours to reflect on this blasphemy, and I'm realizing I don't regret making this statement. Yes, I'm well aware of the challenges in making cross-positional, cross-generational comparisons. (Sheesh, some of you have to take all of the fun out of life). And yes, I'm aware of Hakeem's postseason brilliance. (As one reader noted, I'm not sure what relevance those circumstances have to my claim - we're arguing abilities not historical body of work.) But what James Harden is doing right now, in carrying an all-time offense, is at the very least on par with anything Olajuwon produced on that end.
Where Olajuwon, of course, set himself apart was the defensive end. In fact, Olajuwon's age 27 season (where Harden currently is), in 1989-1990, was the most prolific of his career on the boards and at the rim as he averaged a whopping 14 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. Imagine what those numbers would look like at the pace of today's game. In Olajuwon's MVP season, 1993-1994, he averaged 27.3 points (the second highest mark of his career), 11.9 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. Harden is averaging 29.4 points, 11.2 assists, and 8.1 rebounds. The Rockets will probably finish close to the 58-24 mark they posted in 1993-1994. I'm not going to break down the advanced metrics because its almost 9:00 P.M. and I don't have the mental energy for that, and more importantly, those sorts of factors hold no weight in hypothetical banter of this sort. For now, it will take a good argument to convince me against my claim.