James Harden has done wonders for the Thunder, but he's not an All-Star just yet

He won't be joining Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the All-Star Game this year. When the reserves were announced Thursday evening, the shooting guard was not among the Western Conference backups. That's as it should have been.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 9, 2012
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Now, despite all of those deserving players, if you consider stats and his team's success, Harden has a great argument for being an All-Star.

The Thunder entered Thursday night's game at Sacramento with the best record in the NBA, and Harden is no small part of that success. Without him, there are plenty of games that Oklahoma City could've lost.

His numbers have skyrocketed since last season, too. He's scoring a bunch more, 16.8 points a game vs. 12.2 points last season. He's shooting better, 47 percent this season vs. 43.6 percent a year ago.

Among players at his position, few are more proficient than Harden. Look at the Player Efficiency Rating, and you'll see that the only shooting guards who rank higher are Kobe and D-Wade.

But Harden's not a starter on his own team.

Granted, he plays every bit as much as a starter. He averages 31.2 minutes a game, which is exactly the same amount as Nash. But the reality is, if you can't crack the starting five on your own team, you're going to struggle to make the All-Star Game.

Ditto if you're the third option for your squad.

Harden normally takes a backseat to Durant and Westbrook when all three are on the floor together. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's worked out pretty darn well for the Thunder, though I wouldn't mind seeing Harden initiate the offense more even when he's out there with KD and Russ. But the truth of the matter is, what works for the Thunder doesn't necessarily work for Western Conference coaches voting for the All-Star reserves.

Harden thought he should've been an All-Star. Told SI.com as much earlier this week. Said he felt like the team was playing well enough and he was playing well enough to be selected.

No doubt there are All-Star Games in Harden's future. Many of them, if I had to guess.

But as it should, that first one will have to wait.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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