Skip to content

Dwight Howard and James Harden could form NBA’s best duo

Jul 5, 2013, 7:43 PM EDT

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Dwight Howard is a center. James Harden is a guard.

Howard is one of the NBA’s best defenders. Harden is one of the league’s top offensive players.

Howard is an elite interior scorer. Harden’s range extends beyond the 3-point line.

Howard is excellent as the screener in pick-and-rolls. Harden is superb as the ball-handler on those plays.

Howard and Harden, in any system, would be two of the NBA’s best players. Together, they should be great.

They won’t step on each other’s toes the ways LeBron James and Dwyane Wade do at times. Obviously LeBron and Wade have overcome those issues, but the overlaps in their games have caused complications.

Howard and Harden won’t have to deal with that.

Could Howard and Harden even become the NBA’s best duo next season? First, let’s set a baseline using each team’s top duos last season, as judged by combined win shares.

I’ll also slot in Howard and Harden to compare. It’s difficult to know whether Howard’s peak win-share total, set in 2010-11, or his lower total while playing through injury last season is more telling, so I’ll show both.

1. Thunder, 30.5 (Kevin Durant, 18.9; Russell Westbrook, 11.6)

2. Heat, 28.9 (LeBron James, 19.3; Dwyane Wade, 9.6)

Howard (14.4) Harden (12.8) using peak numbers numbers, 27.2

3. Clippers, 24.5 (Chris Paul, 13.9; Blake Griffin, 10.6)

4. Grizzlies, 21.4 (Marc Gasol, 11.5; Mike Conley, 9.9)

Harden (12.8) and Howard (7.6) using last season’s numbers, 20.4

5. Warriors, 20.3 (Stephen Curry, 11.2; David Lee, 9.1)

6. Nets, 19.9 (Deron Williams, 10.9; Brook Lopez, 9)

7. Rockets, 19.8 (James Harden, 12.8; Chandler Parsons, 7)

8. Knicks, 18.8 (Carmelo Anthony, 9.5; Tyson Chandler, 9.3)

8. Pacers, 18.8 (George Hill, 9.7; David West, 9.1)

10. Lakers, 18.5 (Kobe Bryant, 10.9; Dwight Howard, 7.6)

11. Spurs, 17.6 (Tony Parker, 9.3; Tim Duncan, 8.3)

12. Jazz, 15.3 (Al Jefferson, 7.7; Paul Millsap, 7.6)

13. Hawks, 15.2 (Al Horford, 8.8; Kyle Korver, 6.4)

13. Nuggets, 15.2 (Kenneth Faried, 7.8; Ty Lawson, 7.4)

15. Bulls, 14.3 (Joakim Noah, 7.3; Jimmy Butler, 7)

16. Trail Blazers, 14.1 (LaMarcus Aldridge, 7.2; J.J. Hickson, 6.9)

17. Raptors, 12.9 (Amir Johnson, 7.3; Kyle Lowry, 5.6)

18. Celtics, 12.8 (Paul Pierce, 7.2; Kevin Garnett, 5.6)

19. Bucks, 12.7 (Ersan Ilyasova, 6.7; Larry Sanders, 6)

19. Timberwolves, 12.7 (Nikola Pekovic, 6.7; Andrei Kirilenko, 6)

21. Hornets, 12.6 (Ryan Anderson, 6.5; Anthony Davis, 6.1)

22. 76ers, 12.3 (Thaddeus Young, 7.4; Dorell Wright, 4.9)

23. Mavericks, 11.6 (Vince Carter, 6; Darren Collison, 5.6)

24. Wizards, 10.8 (Martell Webster, 6.3; tie John Wall and Emeka Okafor, 4.5)

25. Cavaliers, 10.5 (Kyrie Irving, 5.3; Tristan Thompson, 5.2)

25. Suns, 10.5 (Goran Dragic, 5.7; Jared Dudley, 4.8)

27. Pistons, 10.4 (Greg Monroe, 5.9; Andre Drummond, 4.5)

28. Kings, 9.4 (Isaiah Thomas, 5; tie: DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans, 4.4)

29. Magic, 8.9 (Nikola Vucevic, 5.7; J.J. Redick, 3.2)

30. Bobcats, 8.1 (Kemba Walker, 4.8; Gerald Henderson, 3.3)

Wade is 31, and he has spent his career drawing fouls, a style that is difficult to maintain. He showed during the playoffs that he might already be beyond his days of regularly dominating. That doesn’t mean he’ll fall off a cliff or won’t sometimes look like the best shooting guard in the NBA, but it could mean he and LeBron lose their footing as one of the game’s best two duos.

There are also questions about how Westbrook returns from his injury. Lingering effects could keep him and Durant from retaining their place atop this list.

But if I had to guess today, I’d say Durant-Westbrook will be the NBA’s best duo next season with Howard-Harden coming in second.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Warriors will keep Gerald Wallace

    Jul 8, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Golden State has time to change its mind on forward acquired for David Lee

  2. Report: Heat willing to give away Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen AP

    Miami also reportedly talking Shabazz Napier trade

  3. Report: Manu Ginobili getting two-year, $5.7 million contract from Spurs

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Sounds as if San Antonio will use room exception on Ginobili, which helps the cause for re-signing Tim Duncan

  4. Warriors could save $48 million with David Lee-Gerald Wallace trade

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Even without stretching Wallace, that projects to be about $24 million in savings

  5. Report: Charlie Villanueva gets another minimum contract with Mavericks

    Jul 7, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Villanueva will back up Dirk Nowitzki as floor-spreading power forward

  6. Report: Clippers signing Wesley Johnson to minimum contract

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:46 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Clippers having a nice offseason – minus that one move that defines their offseason

  7. Report: Alan Anderson signs one-year, $4 million deal with Washington Wizards

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks - Game Five Getty Images

    The one-year deal keeps their cap space alive next summer to chase Kevin Durant.

  8. Jason Smith reaches one-year deal with Orlando Magic

    Jul 7, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    The Knicks and Magic essentially swap reserve centers.

  9. J.J. Redick: Clippers deserve “F” for free agency after losing DeAndre Jordan

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Five Getty Images

    “Listen, we had one priority this summer, and that was to re-sign DJ, and we missed out on that.” — J.J. Redick on the Clippers summer.

  10. PBT Podcast: Free agency’s winners and losers

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridge

    The Lakers were not free agency losers like some think.

  11. Report: Boston Celtics agree to trade for David Lee for Gerald Wallace

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT

    davidlee Getty Images

    Look for the Warriors to waive Wallace using the stretch provision.

  12. Lakers anticipate signing D’Angelo Russell in time for Summer League debut vs. Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot

    Julius Randle, L.A.’s first round pick last year, missed the Summer League opener due to a contract issue.

  13. Lou Williams ‘disappointed’ Raptors didn’t want him back

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The reigning Sixth Man of the Year signed a free agent deal with the Lakers.

  14. Dwyane Wade cites his scoring average when asked how long he’ll continue to play: ‘I think I’ll stay around a while’

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade was the third leading scorer in the East last season, but missed 20 games due to a combination rest and injury.

  15. Mark Cuban fined $25K for commenting on free agents DeAndre Jordan, Wes Matthews

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:31 AM EDT

    Squawk Box - Season 20 Getty Images

    Teams aren’t allowed to discuss deals during the moratorium period, which is still going on.

  16. Report: Kevin Garnett to re-sign with Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    KG will be back for a record 21st NBA season.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (4818)
  2. D. Jordan (3653)
  3. W. Matthews (3615)
  4. R. Hibbert (3426)
  5. R. Rondo (3272)
  1. D. West (3271)
  2. J. Lin (2854)
  3. K. Bryant (2823)
  4. D. Wade (2758)
  5. R. Lopez (2703)