Dec 6, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) brings the ball up the court during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
For my second pick, I’m selecting James Harden at shooting guard. After his breakout season for Houston last year, Harden is picking up right where he left off, averaging 24.4 points per game. While that is down from his 25.9 ppg in his first season with the Rockets, he has increased his field goal and free throw percentages. The drop in ppg can also be attributed to the scoring load on his shoulders being lightened thanks to four other players – fellow starters Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, and Jeremy Lin off the bench – also scoring in double figures. In addition, starting point guard Patrick Beverley is right on the verge of double figures averaging 9.3 ppg. Harden has also benefited from the absence of one Kobe Bryant, who’s just returned from injury. The starting shooting guard spot will be Harden’s to lose, especially if he keeps up his current level of play. He’ll need to improve on his drastically lower three point percentage (30%, down from 36.8% last year), but the 2013-2014 season looks to be a promising one for Harden, as his 15-7 Rockets look to take over the Western Conference.
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