The NBA announced the starters for the All-Star Game in Cleveland on Feb. 20. As expected, Kevin Durant will represent the Brooklyn Nets as a captain for the East, although he won’t be able to play due to his sprained MCL. As for James Harden, he won’t be a starter. Atlanta’s Trae Young received more votes than Harden to secure a starting spot.
The five starters for each conference are made up of two guards and three frontcourt players. The players are chosen by a combination of fan votes (50%), current players (25%), and media (25%).
The 29-19 Nets are fourth in the Eastern Conference and the 22-25 Hawks are in 12th place.
Harden’s played in 43 games (one more than Young) and is averaging 23 points, 10.1 assists, and 8.1 rebounds in 37 minutes per game. He’s shooting 42% from the field and 33.7% from the 3-point line.
Young’s averaging 27.7 points, 9.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds in 34.5 minutes per game. He’s shooting 45.3% from the field and 38% from the 3-point line.
Trae Young is an East All-Star starter over Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden.
For the second time in his four-year career, Young will start. He started for Team Giannis in 2020 and wasn’t voted as an All-Star last year. As we all know, Young then went on to lead Atlanta to the Eastern Conference Finals.
If you look at Harden’s numbers, he’s not having the best year statistically. His points per game are the lowest that it’s been since 2011-12, his field goal percentage is the lowest that it’s been since his rookie year in 2009-10, and his 3-point percentage is the lowest that it’s ever been. Meanwhile, his minutes per game is the highest that it’s been since 2015-16.
His rebounds and assists per game are similar to the numbers that he put up last year in the 36 games that he played in for Brooklyn.
On the other hand, Young’s field goal and 3-point percentages are career-highs for him.
The 23-year-old took the league by storm in the playoffs last year but Atlanta has fallen in the rankings this season. If the season ended today, the Hawks wouldn’t make the playoffs.
Harden has been the Nets’ most consistent player. With Durant out, he’s been tasked with leading Brooklyn in the games that the team plays at Barclays Center without Kyrie Irving.
This year, his struggles started after he spent the offseason rehabbing his hamstring injury and while he was trying to get back in a groove, he had to adjust to the league no longer calling fouls on non-basketball moves. It didn’t help that the Nets were without Irving for the first half of the season, and now that he’s back, Harden’s game has greatly benefitted.
Based on Brooklyn’s position in the East, along with the increased workload that Harden has had to take on, he should’ve been chosen as a starter over Young. It’s impressive that Harden’s numbers are still high in light of everything that he’s been tasked with so far this year.
The All-Star reserves will be announced on Feb. 3 and Harden will most likely be one of them. And hey, maybe he’ll actually enjoy the change of pace that he’ll get from coming off the bench.