In a January 23 The Ringer article, Michael Pina listed who he had for his 2023 NBA All-Star selections. On his list, only one player on the Philadelphia 76ers made it: Joel Embiid, who Pina had as a starter. James Harden was not only not on that list, but Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown was picked over Harden.
Pina did not explain why Harden didn’t make the cut but delved into some of Brown’s qualities as well as his flaws.
“Brown has his lapses and faults like anyone else, but he’s been one of the most unstoppable pure scorers, with turbo thrusters in the open floor that give Boston’s offense a critical boost when its outside shots aren’t falling,” Pina said.
Pina also brought up Brown’s playmaking issues, making note that Brown’s known better for his athleticism and jumper.
“Playmaking responsibilities come and go for Brown, who’s more inclined to leverage his Dunk Contest–worthy athleticism and unstoppable pull-up jumper,” Pina said. Brown is averaging 3.3 assists a game, which is fifth among Celtics players behind Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White. Harden, by contrast, is averaging 11.2 assists, which is seven more assists a game than the next Sixer, Embiid.
Pina later mentioned Harden first among players he would apologize to for not making the team, which included Jalen Brunson, DeMar DeRozan, Darius Garland, Kyle Kuzma, Jrue Holiday, and Kyrie Irving. If Harden misses the all-star game, it will have been the first he’s missed since 2012.
Brown Has More Votes Than Harden
On January 19, the NBA released its most up-to-date returns on all-star voting. Among guards, Harden ranks fourth among guards, falling behind Irving, Donovan Mitchell, and Brown, though he isn’t too far behind Brown.
Even if Harden beats Brown in the end, he still has almost half as many votes as Mitchell and Irving. Pending any miracle, they’re likely to get the nods as the all-star game’s two starting guards.
There may be two factors as to why Harden has not received as many votes as some of his fellow star guards in the Eastern Conference. One, he’s played 30 out of a possible 46 games, meaning he’s missed a third of the games this season. Availability hurts a player’s chances of making the all-star team, even those that have the reputation that Harden does.
Two, the Sixers did not start out the season well, sporting a .500 record of 12-12. They have since been on a roll, going 18-4, which has vaulted them to the second seed. However, their struggles earlier this season may have impacted Harden’s all-star campaign.
Harden Left Off Another All-Star Ballot
In a January 11 The Athletic article, John Hollinger and Josh Robbins also left Harden off their ballot. However, they also explained why they left Harden off their ballot.
“Harden remains an All-Star-caliber player, but it’s hard to argue for him as one of the 12 selections when he’s only played 24 games and doesn’t offer a lot of value on the defensive end. The 33-year-old would see a 10-year All-Star streak end if not selected, despite averaging over 20 points and 10 assists for a third straight season.”
The 11.2 assists Harden is averaging this season is his highest since the 2016-17 season.