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. Blake Griffin among actors for dramatic reading of “Space Jam” (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT

    Monstars space jam

    This is exactly what you’ve been waiting for — a dramatic reading of Space Jam including Blake Griffin and D’Andre Jordan.

  2. Son tweets Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  3. Report: Joel Anthony opting in with Celtics

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Center has $3.8 million player option

  4. Likely top-10 pick Dante Exum signs with adidas

    Apr 17, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT

    Essendon Bombers Media Opportunity Getty Images

    Adidas rolls the dice on a young guard with potential. Not a bad business plan.

  5. Kentucky’s James Young, Duke’s Rodney Hood declare for NBA draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 5:57 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    Both are likely first round picks in the teens or early 20s.

  6. The Al Jefferson Effect: Now that the Bobcats are playoff-bound, how they want their big man to help next

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson

    What affect will Jefferson have on the development of Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller?

  7. Toronto puts together fantastic playoffs preview video

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Timberwolves Raptors Basketball AP

    Raptors fans are pumped for the playoffs.

  8. Carmelo Anthony: “I want to come back…I also want to win.”

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony AP

    It really comes down to this: Does he trust Phil Jackson and Knicks management to build a winner quickly?

  9. LeBron James, Heat top NBA jersey sales again

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    You put your money where your heart is, and your heart clearly follows LeBron James and the Heat.

  10. The incredible thing about Larry Drew

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Larry Drew Larry Drew

    Bucks didn’t win back-to-back games all season

  11. Kobe tells Lakers’ fans to “flush” last season, has been cleared to run, shoot, prepare for next season

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kobe may be in France but he still had time to tweet Lakers fans and tell them things will be better next season.

  12. Duke’s Jabari Parker says he will enter NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Duke v Mercer Getty Images

    He is as high on some boards as No. 1, but likely goes No. 3. However no freshman near the top of this board will have a bigger immediate impact in the NBA — his offensive game is NBA ready.

  13. Report: Rick Adelman will not return as Timberwolves coach

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Rick Adelman Rick Adelman

    This both has been expected and is mutual, according to the buzz around the league.

  14. Report: Grant Hill not interested in becoming Pistons’ general manager

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 Getty Images

    Hill previously reported to be a candidate for a job

Featured video

Handing out NBA's postseason awards
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Williams (3766)
  2. D. Wade (3742)
  3. K. Love (3714)
  4. L. James (3704)
  5. S. Curry (3513)
  1. C. Anthony (3273)
  2. R. Rondo (3130)
  3. G. Dragic (3024)
  4. R. Westbrook (3006)
  5. K. Durant (2873)