The NBA announced on Thursday night the reserves for the All-Star Game later on this month.
The Eastern Conference reserve pool for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/CxPNBXMVLY— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) February 3, 2023
The Eastern Conference reserve pool for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/CxPNBXMVLY
The Philadelphia 76ers will be represented at the All-Star Game by Joel Embiid. The big man was voted on by the coaches and made the list of seven reserve players from the Eastern Conference. It is Embiid’s sixth consecutive All-Star appearance.
Embiid was a virtual lock to be announced as a reserve after being snubbed from starting in the All-Star Game. He is in a virtual deadlock with Luka Doncic for first in the league in scoring, averaging 33.5 points on 53.4% shooting from the field.
There was some question of whether Harden would be named an All-Star this season. He is in the midst of an excellent campaign, playing a large role in helping the Sixers to a 33-17 record (currently third place in the Eastern Conference). However, the East has a glut of good talent at the guard positions including Jaylen Brown, Darius Garland, Tyrese Haliburton, Jalen Brunson and Trae Young. At most four guards would be able to make it as All-Star Game reserves. Harden ultimately was not voted in as an All-Star reserve.
Harden had this to say when asked about potentially making the All-Star Game following the Sixers’ 105-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night:
“Yeah, I mean, you’re one of the best players in the league. I’m not gonna sit over here and say I should be an All-Star and make a case or anything like that. The numbers show it, our seed shows it, so I think it would be my 11th in a row. So obviously it’s always an honor, you never want to take that for granted. It means you’re doing something right, making an impact on your team and on the game. So if my name is called then great. If not, then bigger and better goals for the season.”
Harden has made a huge positive impact for the Sixers this season. He is averaging 21.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 11 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is currently shooting 39.4% from beyond the arc, which would be a career-high if he can maintain it throughout the rest of the season. The work he put in during the offseason both to get healthy and to add different things to his arsenal (catch-and-shoot, mid-range arsenal) has paid dividends. His chemistry with Embiid is also continuing to grow. The two form one of the most dominant pick-and-roll duos in the game.
It comes as a shock to see Harden not be named an All-Star. What Harden has accomplished this season should certainly warrant an All-Star berth. If he keeps up this level of play throughout the remainder of the season, he might even warrant All-NBA consideration. It is still possible Harden could participate in the All-Star Game as an injury replacement. However, he should already be on the All-Star roster.
Harden falling short of making the All-Star Game is certainly a tough pill for him to swallow. However, in the end it is just a sideshow. As Harden said after the win over Orlando, he has “bigger and better goals for the season.”