Where Rockets’ James Harden belongs among top 10 NBA Bubble players

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Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The NBA announced All-Bubble teams for the seeding games along with an MVP. We break down where the Houston Rockets’ James Harden belongs on the list.

The NBA is good at listening. They listen to the players, the media, and even us fans. Many felt short-changed when the NBA announced that end of the season awards like league MVP and Most-Improved Player were to be based solely on league play before the shutdown. Fortunately, the league made a decision that added to the accolades Houston Rockets star James Harden has earned.

To quench our collective thirst for rankings and awards, the NBA announced that a team and player of the bubble would be voted on by the media. With the official list of All-Bubble First and Second Teams being tweeted out by Shams Charania on Saturday, I ranked the 10 guys I felt are most deserving of such recognition, as well as five honorable mentions who have a legitimate claim to be on the list.

The NBA Bubble Honorable Mentions

Houston Rockets

Dallas Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Kim Klement – Pool/Getty Images)

Kristaps Porzingis

Watching Kristaps Porzingis play shows just how much the NBA has changed over the last 20 years. At 7-3, Porzingis looks like he should be a low-block monster, but in reality, he is one of the worst post scorers in the league.

Even if the Mavericks run a few too many post-ups for the lanky Latvian, it hasn’t hurt his play as he has averaged 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in Orlando. Porzingis has to settle for honorable mention because the Mavericks have been outscored with him on the court by 4.7 points per game, and he hasn’t been the best player on his team.

Paul George

The Clippers have to be ecstatic with PG-13’s play heading into the postseason. He has averaged 25.5 points on 48.1 percent shooting and 50 percent 3-point shooting. The Clippers are +8.2 with George on the court but, much like Porzingis, he has not even been his team’s best player. It no doubt hurts George that the Clippers have prioritized health heading into the playoffs instead of results.

Houston Rockets

San Antonio Spurs DeMar DeRozan (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan

The Spurs’ chances of reaching the playoffs hinged on DeRozan’s ability to score like it’s 1998. It seems like perimeter players that don’t take 3-pointers and have a sick mid-range game are extinct, but don’t tell DeRozan that.

He averaged 21.7 points on a fantastic 58.1 percent shooting in his seven bubble games played. DeRozan lead the Spurs to a 5-2 record before wins by other play-in contenders ended San Antonio’s playoff streak, and he sat for the final game of the season.

Jayson Tatum

Before the NBA shut down due to COVID-19, Tatum was on an absolute tear. His form has not been quite as good since the season resumed, but just about any team would gladly take 22.4 points a night on 44.9 percent 3-point shooting from an elite defensive wing.

The Celtics went 5-3 on the Orlando campus, but Tatum has only played 31.7 minutes a game, which is what pushes him out of the top-10.

Houston Rockets

Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic will always be confounding. When he wants to, he can be an unstoppable scorer, as his 17.9 points a game on 52 percent shooting will attest to, but all too often, it seems that he is uninterested in doing any of the scoring himself.

The Nuggets don’t mind having the greatest point-center in history and will gladly take the 8.3 assists per game that Jokic provides. Him playing sparingly (29.3 minutes per game) and the Nuggets finding another potential superstar relegate Jokic to an honorable mention.

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