James Harden on Klay Thompson calling himself NBA’s best SG: ‘We really know what’s going on’

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Klay Thompson called himself the NBA’s best shooting guard.

What does the NBA’s best shooting guard, James Harden, think of that?

Harden, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“People are going to talk,” Harden said. “Just let them talk and do whatever they’re going to do. Whatever gets them excited and whatever gives them that confidence to want to talk, just go ahead and do it. But we really know what’s going on.”

Asked if Thompson’s comment adds any motivation to Thursday’s meeting, Harden left it at “No.”

Thompson is a very good player, just not the league’s best shooting guard. He ranks third behind Harden and Jimmy Butler.

Thompson cited the Warriors’ strong record as evidence he tops the list, but he’s only one piece of his team’s success. Harden would win more than he does now if he got to play with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

Though Thompson certainly lifts Curry, Curry drives Golden State’s success. The Warriors have been outscored by 3.3 points per 48 minutes with Thompson on and Curry off this season and last. Moreover, Thompson’s production has dipped considerably in those situations.

To somewhat put both players on equal footing, compare how Thompson has performed without Curry at his side (597 minutes) and how Harden has performed without Curry at his side (obviously all his minutes) this season and last:

  • Harden: 26.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, 43.3% from the field, 36.3% on 3-pointers, 59.7% true shooting percentage
  • Thompson: 22.1 points, 3.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds per 36 minutes, 39.4% from the field, 38.1% on 3-pointers, 51.0% true shooting percentage

Thompson’s struggles without Curry are even more pronounced this season, though I’m willing to chalk that up to a small sample. Increasing the sample still doesn’t put Thompson over Harden.

Thompson defends better than Harden, but not enough to cover the offensive gap at a time team defense far outweighs individual defense.

Thompson has proven himself an awesome sidekick, but has looked much shakier when the top option. It’s tough to call a player like that the best at his position – especially when Harden excels while carrying the Rockets’ offense.

Harden has also learned to let others talk. Last time he talked about the Warriors, it didn’t go so well.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in the Bay Area, you can stream tonight’s Warriors-Rockets game here.