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. Nick Young’s first pitch at Dodger game is juuuust a bit outside (VINE)

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Nick Young AP

    He will not be getting a baseball contract soon.

  2. Jason Collins makes the Time 100

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Bl-5vGACMAE8nxe

    Dwyane Wade does writeup on Serena Williams

  3. Clearly frustrated James Harden argues with reporter, calls him “weirdo”

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    Harden is frustrated. He should be, shooting under 30 percent for two games.

  4. Mike Conley wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT

    Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins

    Grizzlies guard gets Joe Dumars Trophy over Jeff Green, Channing Frye, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Mike Dunleavy

  5. Can LaMarcus Aldridge break the all-time single-playoff scoring record?

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    Trail Blazers forward is averaging 44.5 points trhough two games

  6. LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard had a duel (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones

    Dwight Howard was aggressive early and put on a show, but LaMarcus Aldridge won the war.

  7. Thursday NBA playoff previews: Which Indiana team shows up?

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George AP

    All three series Thursday night are tied 1-1.

  8. LaMarcus Aldridge ruining Dwight Howard’s chance at redemption

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:40 AM EDT

    Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge

    Trail Blazers take 2-0 series lead with second win in Houston

  9. Spurs give the ball away first, then Game 2 to Dallas

    Apr 23, 2014, 11:54 PM EDT

    Tony Parker Tony Parker

    The Spurs turned the ball over on 26.2 percent of their possessions. It’s very unSpurs like.

  10. Clipper broadcaster accidentally casts MVP ballot for Most Improved Player

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:23 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

    He has Durant, LeBron and Griffin on his MIP list… but it makes a good MVP ballot.

  11. Allen Iverson documentary trailer debuts (VIDEO)

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Allen Iverson Allen Iverson

    The documentary will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend.

  12. Report: Hawks assistant Quin Snyder in mix for Jazz job, too

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:41 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat

    Utah needs a coach good at player development, Synder could be a fit.

  13. PBT Extra: How ’bout them Wizards?

    Apr 23, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    CSNWashington.com’s Wizards insider talks about the best story line in the playoffs so far.

Featured video

Wizards playing spoiler in East
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. A. Jefferson (3350)
  2. K. Durant (2828)
  3. L. James (2744)
  4. D. Wade (2718)
  5. D. Rose (2615)
  1. J. Noah (2562)
  2. K. Bryant (2387)
  3. D. Howard (2340)
  4. A. Bogut (2177)
  5. N. Hilario (2132)