Rockets’ Harden selected as All-Star game starter

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) goes up for a shot as Denver Nuggets' Will Barton III defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Rockets guard James Harden has been selected as a starter for this year’s NBA All-Star Game, the NBA announced.

This is the fourth straight year that Harden has been selected as a starter and he has been named to the All-Star team in all eight of his seasons as a Rocket. That ties him with Yao Ming for second-most All-Star selections in franchise history with both trailing Hakeem Olajuwon’s 12 selections.

Harden is leading the NBA in scoring this season with 36.7 points per game, while averaging 6.2 assists and 1.64 steals per game. He led the league with a career-high 36.1 ppg in 2018-19 and is looking to become the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to have averaged at least 36.0 ppg in consecutive seasons.  Michael Jordan (37.1 ppg in 1986-87) is the only other player to have averaged at least 36.0 ppg in a season since Chamberlain last did so in 1963-64.

This would be the third straight season Harden will have led the league in scoring.  He would join Kevin Durant (2009-10 through 2011-12) as the only players to accomplish that feat since Jordan did so from 1995-96 through 1997-98.

Fans, of course, account for 50 percent of the vote for starters, while current players account for 25 percent and a panel of basketball media make up the final 25 percent of the vote for the starters of the All-Star Game. Harden finished second among Western Conference guards in voting in each of the three categories.

All-Star reserves will be selected by the head coaches on Thursday, and Rockets first-year guard Russell Westbrook will almost certainly be selected to come off the bench.

The 2020 All-Star Game will be played Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in Chicago.