NBA: 6 Big winners, 5 unfortunate losers from the first half of the 2023-24 season

Who are the big winners and loser from the first half of the 2023-24 NBA season?
Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages
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James Harden - Winner

Before the season, James Harden had become one of the most hated players in the NBA. After opting into the final year of his contract, requesting a trade, having the Philadelphia 76ers deny his question, insulting Dary Morey, reporting to camp to never play in a game for the Sixers this season, and then finally being traded, it was a lot to take in. As he made the move to Los Angeles, Harden had his work cut out for him if he wanted to change the tide of the perception surrounding him.

Initially, Harden's start with the Clippers wasn't great. However, after a 0-5 start to his tenure with the Clippers, he's managed to help the team turn things around. Since that horrific start, Harden and the Clippers are 24-7. The Clippers look like a contender in the Western Conference again and Harden's presence in the lineup has been a big part of that.

At the midway point of the season, Harden is doing a great job of fitting in next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the Clippers are just 1.5 games back of the second seed and 2.5 games back of the top seed in the Western Conference. After the first couple of weeks of the Harden trade, I'm not sure there are many that believed the Clippers would be where they are now.