Even the addition of Dwight Howard couldn’t diminish the output of Harden.
In his second season with the Rockets, the third overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft has significantly outperformed all others at the position, leading all shooting guards in scoring (25.4 points) and assists (6.1) as the catalyst for the second most potent offense in the league.
The Rockets are averaging 107.8 points per game, just two tenths of a point fewer than the Clippers with Harden’s combination of points and assists leading to a nightly output of 43.6 points per game.
His play, especially in the absence of Howard, out with an ankle injury, has helped Houston clinch the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
The Rockets sit one game ahead of Portland, their opponent in the opening round, and will have home court advantage after winning the season series 3-1.
Without question, Harden has established himself as the best shooting guard in the NBA, now he’s looking to make the Rockets into a legitimate championship contender.
All-NBA First Team
Point Guard: Chris Paul– Los Angeles Clippers
For the third time in his career, Paul is leading the league in assists (10.7) and steals (2.5) per game. For the fourth consecutive season, Paul is posting the most steals per game. The 28-year-old guard is creating 24.5 points per game off his passing, the most in the league this season, while scoring 19.1 points per game on his own.
Guard: James Harden– Houston Rockets
During his three-year tenure in Oklahoma City, Harden never logged a double-double. This season, he posted 14 double-doubles, only Lance Stephenson finished with more at the shooting guard position. Harden has scored 20 or more points in 52 of his 73 appearances this season and has proven to be one of the best at drawing fouls, with his 665 free throw attempts marking the third most in the NBA.
Forward: Kevin Durant– Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant has been able to combine his ability to score from anywhere on the floor with a role as a facilitator. Along with a career-high 31.9 points per game, Durant is dishing out 5.5 assists a night, making him one of the most unstoppable offensive forces the league has ever seen. His play in the absence of Russell Westbrook has catapulted him into the front runner for the 2014 NBA MVP.
Forward: LeBron James– Miami Heat
For the ninth time in his career, James was able to pour in over 2,000 points in a season, with only the lockout shortened 2011-12 year preventing him from achieving the feat for a decade straight. James has continued to find ways to score more efficiently, shooting a career-best 56.7 percent from the field and the 116 conversions from 3-point range mark his highest amount since joining Miami.
Center: Joakim Noah– Chicago Bulls
Along with his credentials as the Defensive Player of the Year, Noah has dished out more total assists than Deron Williams and Tony Parker while averaging more per game than Jose Calderon. Noah is averaging 11.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, a feat that has only been achieved 22 times in league history.
All-NBA Second Team
Guard: Tony Parker– San Antonio Spurs
The individual statistics of 16.7 points on 49.9 percent shooting from the field and 5.7 assists per game might not be the equivalent of some other top-tier point guards, but none of them are playing for the best team of 2013-14. San Antonio became a truly dominant team, winning 19 consecutive games as Parker secured his sixth nomination for the All-Star game.
Guard: Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
For the second consecutive season, Curry is leading the league in 3-point shooting, converting 261 times from 3-point range, just nine shy of his record-setting performance last year. Along with his potent long range shooting, Curry evolved into a much better floor general, dishing out a career-high 8.5 assists per game, the sixth most in the league this season.
Forward: Kevin Love– Minnesota Timberwolves
Along with his league-leading 64 double-doubles, Love ranked fourth in scoring at 26.2 points and third in rebounding at 12.5 per game. In his sixth season in the league, Love found a way to become a more efficient scorer, shooting 50.2 percent from the field on all shots inside the 3-point arc and knocking down 38.1 percent of his 3-pointers, both marking the highest of his carer.
Forward: Blake Griffin– Los Angeles Clippers
In his fourth season, Griffin has shed any notion of him just being a tremendous athlete. While he is still one of the most fearsome rim rockers in the NBA, slamming the ball home 176 times, fourth most in the league, he has been able to round out his game. Griffin is averaging a career-high 24.1 points on 52.8 percent shooting along with 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Center: Dwight Howard– Houston Rockets
In his Rockets debut, Howard completely dominated, logging 17 points, a season-high 26 rebounds and two blocks during a victory over the Bobcats. A cyst on his ankle has forced him to miss eight games towards the end of the regular season, he still remained one of the top rebounders in the game, ranking fourth with 12.3 per game.
All-NBA Third Team
Guard: Goran Dragic– Phoenix Suns
His exclusion from the All-Star game looks even more egregious as the regular season comes to an end. Dragic set career-highs by averaging 20.3 points on 50.5 percent shooting from the field, 40.8 percent from 3-point range. Dragic still manged to dish out 5.9 assists per game while splitting point guard duties with Eric Bledsoe and fell just short of leading the Suns to an improbable playoff berth.
Guard: John Wall– Washington Wizards
During his first All-Star campaign, Wall was able to expand his shooting to 3-point range and become one of the most effective passers in the league. The 23-year-old guard has knocked down 107 shots from beyond the arc, after converting just 49 times during his first three seasons in the league. Wall has dished out 712 assists, the most in the league and his nightly output of 8.8 assists per game ranks second only to Chris Paul.
Forward- Paul George– Indiana Pacers
An extended shooting slump has knocked George out of the MVP conversation, but he still managed to post a tremendous season. George logged a career-best 1.9 steals per game, recording at least one in 69 of 80 appearances while posting 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the top ranked team in the Eastern Conference.
Forward- Dirk Nowitzki– Dallas Mavericks
In his first full season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Nowitzki proved he was fully recovered. The 35-year-old carried Dallas into the playoffs for the 13th time in his career behind 21.6 points on 49.6 percent shooting from the field, 89.8 percent shooting at the foul line and 40 percent shooting from 3-point range along with 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Center: Al Jefferson– Charlotte Bobcats
Any doubt of Jefferson’s stellar season were put to rest as the regular season came to an end. The 29-year-old has posted seven consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound performances to help Charlotte qualify for the post season for just the second time in the franchises 10-year history. For the year, Jefferson is averaging 22 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.