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. Hornets sign Elliot Williams as 16th player

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:26 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets vs Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    He’ll likely compete with Aaron Harrison to make regular-season roster

  2. Who is still out there: Top 10 free agents still on the market

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:31 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith head the list.

  3. Donald Trump says he’s becoming a Mavericks fan after Mark Cuban’s comments

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:05 AM EDT

    Celebrities At Game 3 Of The Lakers/Suns Getty Images

    Cuban said presidential candidate is ‘probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time’

  4. Report: Warriors to sign Ian Clark

    Jul 28, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Could former summer-league standout fill Golden State’s need for an off-the-bench shooter?

  5. Mavericks sign Jamil Wilson, Brandon Ashley

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Dallas also reportedly talking to Salah Mejri

  6. Report: Serge Ibaka not yet cleared to play after March surgery

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:19 PM EDT

    "Son Of The Congo" - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival Getty Images

    Thunder power forward was scheduled to play in African exhibition game

  7. Heat sign Josh Richardson

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT

    Josh Richardson, Spencer Dinwiddle AP

    Miami cleared roster room for second-round pick

  8. Nicolas Batum responds to Toronto rumor in hysterical fashion

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    I can tell you where Batum will land next summer — whichever team offers him the most money.

  9. Report: Knicks, Lakers, Wizards still interested in Kevin Seraphin

    Jul 28, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The Lakers and Knicks don’t make a ton of sense for him.

  10. Former NBA All-Star Vin Baker training to be Starbucks manager

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Vin Baker AP

    He’s been sober four years, which is most important.

  11. Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan

    Did Michael Jordan hijack the draft process in Charlotte again?

  12. Wisconsin State Assembly passes Bucks arena deal, clearing the way for Gov. Walker to sign

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Scott Walker Scott Walker

    Walker is expected to sign the bill to allocate funds for a new arena.

  13. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov: “We had a really good offseason.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Mikhail Prokhorov Mikhail Prokhorov

    The Nets added solid role players in addition to re-signing Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

  14. Report: Clippers center Ekpe Udoh signs one-year deal in Turkey

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Ekpe Udoh Ekpe Udoh

    Udoh played five seasons with the Warriors, Bucks and Clippers.

  15. Matt Barnes on Serge Ibaka: “He’s just dirty.”

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green

    Barnes hasn’t forgotten Ibaka’s altercations with Blake Griffin.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (3128)
  2. B. Haywood (2437)
  3. I. Thomas (2334)
  4. S. Curry (2151)
  5. J. Fredette (2017)
  1. L. James (1982)
  2. C. Copeland (1904)
  3. K. Durant (1885)
  4. A. Randolph (1861)
  5. P. Pressey (1714)