NBA awards race: Will 76ers’ James Harden make All-NBA team?

Feb 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during warmups against the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during warmups against the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden have finally found a perfect combination to be more effective and challenging for the championship. After a short run in 2022 with the Sixers, the Beard has found his rhythm and role in the team. This excelled his productivity and uplifted the whole team to a contender position. Without any question, the 2023 season has been the best performance from the 33-year-old guard since leaving the Rockets.

Reigning scoring champion Joel Embiid benefited the most from Harden’s new version and is set to win his 2nd scoring title. Also, Embiid leads the race in MVP talks, mostly thanks to Harden’s work in the back-court.

Harden is also looking to seal his second assists title, provided he plays enough games to qualify for it. After a “return of Harden”, a question remains: will the new Harden win a championship this season? We will learn that in the next few months, as the team has yet to play in the playoffs. But one question can be answered depending on past performances – has James Harden done enough to get an All-NBA team nod?

Comparison between James Harden and the rest of the contender guards in the league.

While winning an NBA Championship is the ultimate goal for every player, some in-between personal accolades surely highlight an athlete’s performance throughout the season. James Harden has won many such individual awards. The three-time scoring champion has been an assist king in 2017, won the sixth man of the year award in 2012, the regular season MVP award in 2018, and also made to 7 different All-NBA teams in his career.

This was done with Harden leading the Rockets for nearly a decade. And now we can see similarly impactful game play from the megastar with the Eastern team. Still, Harden was snubbed in the latest edition of the All-Star games. Will that be the case in the All-NBA team selection as well? Let us compare his chances.

The NBA is packed with many talented guards who could make any All-NBA selections. Though defense and rebounding are not their main forte, guards are also helping their teams with meaningful contributions in those areas. Looking at the stats and performances so far in the 2023 season, we can narrow down the following guards eligible for the All-NBA team selections.

  • James Harden, PHI: 21.4 PPG, 10.8 APG, 6.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 3.4 TOV, 3rd in East
  • Jaylen Brown, BOS: 26.7 PPG, 3.4 APG, 6.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.9 TOV, 2nd in East
  • Donovan Mitchell, CLE: 27.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 2.6 TOV, 4th in East
  • Jalen Brunson, NYK: 23.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 2.0 TOV, 5th in East
  • Trae Young, ATL: 26.8 PPG, 10.0 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 4.1 TOV, 8th in East
  • Tyrese Haliburton, IND: 20.7 PPG, 10.4 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 2.5 TOV, 12th in East
  • Ja Morant, MEM: 26.7 PPG, 8.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 3.3 TOV, 2nd in West
  • De’Aaron Fox, SAC: 25.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.6 TOV, 3rd in West
  • Chris Paul, PHX: 13.7 PPG, 9.1 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 2.0 TOV, 4th in West
  • Stephen Curry, GSW: 29.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, 6.2 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 3.3 TOV, 6th in West
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC: 31.3 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 2.9 APG, 10th in West
  • Luka Doncic, DAL: 32.9 PPG, 8.2 APG, 8.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 3.7 TOV, 11th in West

In the stat list for twelve candidates in the guard position for the All-NBA selection, the Western Conference guards are more scorers than their Eastern counterparts. On the other hand, Eastern guards have shown more play making aspects in the games.

Though ranked just around play-in situations, Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have performed best out of the given bunch. Morant and Mitchell are also having a top-notch season with their teams. With 6 selection places in three All-NBA teams, those mentioned superstars certainly deserves a spot in either of the teams.

The tussle will be between the remaining 8 players for the remaining two places. Every player in the discussion has a solid claim in the All-NBA team selection. Tyrese Halliburton, Trae Young, Jaylen Brown, Stephen Curry, and James Harden have been difference-makers for their respective teams and had memorable outings in recent games.

With better shooting percentages among the remaining guards, assists record, and impact on the team; James Harden certainly looks to have a slight upper hand in the competition. Chris Paul will be dropping out from the list of candidates, with others outscoring him by a huge margin. Still, the competition is intense, and it will be great to see who makes the All-NBA team this season.

Next. 2023 NBA awards race with two weeks left. dark