Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Likewise, whoever starts at shooting guard for the Clips, be it Jamal Crawford now or a healthy J.J. Redick come playoff time, would pale in comparison to James Harden.
Harden may be a bit of a laggard on the defensive end, to say the least, but when it comes to dominating as a scorer and facilitator, no 2-guard in today's game does it better or more consistently than does the Beard. He's tied with Blake Griffin and Stephen Curry for fifth in scoring (24.3 points per game) and leads all players at his position in assists (5.5 per game).
(Unless, of course, you count Goran Dragic as a shooting guard...and I'm not sure why you would.)
Harden's productivity has taken a hit, however slight, since Dwight Howard arrived in Houston. He's scoring, shooting and getting to the foul line less this season than he did in 2012-13, his first with the Rockets, and his three-point accuracy has declined by three percentage points.
Still, in all likelihood, Harden would run Crawford and Redick ragged on his end of the floor, assuming they don't do the same to him on theirs. Like Harden, Crawford is a tremendous ball-handler who can create—and complete—all manner of shots off the dribble. The 33-year-old has turned in 25 games of 20 points or more this season, including four 30-plus-point performances.
As for Redick, he ranks among the deadliest perimeter shooters in the league when he's fit. Prior to his latest bout with the injury bug, Redick had converted his threes at nearly a 40 percent clip, including 42.9 percent on catch-and-shoot treys, per NBA.com's SportVU stats.
Redick's health concerns can't be ignored here. "He has a bulging disk so until that calms down so he can get his movement back, he'll be out," Doc Rivers recently told ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne. "That could be three days, two weeks, three weeks. No one knows. There's no set deadline on when he's coming back. He can be back quick or it could take a while. I don't think anybody knows."
If a healthy Redick and Crawford were one in the same, they might be superior to Harden. But they're not, so Harden gets the easy nod here.