James Harden thinks he should be an All-Star. Here’s what he told SI.com:
“Oh yeah, definitely — yes, sir,” he said when asked if he should be an All-Star. “I’m not confident, though. I can’t control that. I’ll just keep playing hard, winning basketball games and having fun with my guys.”
So, is Harden right? Should he be picked as a reserve tonight? I’m already on record saying yes, but here’s another crack at making a case for Harden.
The simple explanation is that Harden is the second best shooting guard in the West behind Kobe Bryant. That should do it. But the way All-Star reserves tend to work is that positions get tossed out the window. Five point guards, a small forward and a power forward might be the selections. Just the way it goes.
But there should be something to be said for a guy that’s second at that position. It just makes sense for him to be included. He’s second in PER (21.94) in the West for shooting guard, only behind Kobe. He’s 22nd overall in PER in the league. He’s fourth in scoring. He’s the third best player on the team with the best record in basketball. And his beard has the power to heal blindness. Those five things should add up to enough to trump Steve Nash or whoever Harden is going to get snubbed for.
“We have the best record in the league,” Harden said. “We’re playing very well as a team. I look at the guards [who weren't already voted in] in the West and there’s not very many that have been playing well. It’s all up to the coaches. I can only control what I can control and keep playing hard and play good.”
Why isn’t Harden generating the buzz that’s likely required to be a selection? Probably because he comes off the bench. He doesn’t have near the profile Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant has and he’s not putting up numbers that can’t be ignored. Most nationally see him as a good role player on the team, but not All-Star material. Plus, there are like five other really, really good candidates. An All-Star selection is quite the honor because it’s not easy to get in.
I don’t think Harden should be an All-Star just by default of his position though. I think he should be one because he’s earned it. His value to the Thunder is something that can’t be understated. Oklahoma City would not be 20-5 without him. I guess the Thunder wouldn’t be 20-5 without Nick Collison either, but Harden’s numbers are good enough to merit consideration. Is that enough for Harden to have his name called on TNT tonight? Probably not, but it should be.