Ranking the 5 best available shooting guards in 2023 NBA free agency

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers Free Agency (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers Free Agency (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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James Harden, Houston Rockets
James Harden, Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

1. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden is easily one of the most interesting free agents of the summer. That’s if he becomes a free agent at all, since he has a player option that will pay the guard handsomely if he stays with the Philadelphia 76ers.

In some ways, the shine is coming off The Beard. He’s still an elite passer and his scoring his still excellent, but it doesn’t feel like he’s destined to be a No. 1 option on a team again. Considering the fact that he’s currently playing alongside reigning MVP Joel Embiid, he doesn’t really need to be.

He’s also not being as aggressive about getting to the line, understandable for a player who will turn 34 during the offseason. Often criticized earlier in his career for hunting fouls, his 6.2 free throw attempts per game last season were his least since 2011-12.

The Sixers felt closer than ever this season to returning to the NBA Finals – or least the Eastern Conference Finals – but couldn’t get the job done. That resulted in the end of Doc Rivers’ tenure, replaced by somewhat recent champion Nick Nurse.

The rumor mill has been churning for Harden since long before the coaching change, though. There were reports earlier this season that a reunion could be in the cards with the Houston Rockets. With the Phoenix Suns seemingly ready to move on from Chris Paul, Harden’s name is now being floated as a replacement in the desert.

Then again, he could just exercise his player option, which would bump his salary from $33 million to $35.6 million. That base salary might feel disrespectful – it would rank him seventh among shooting guards with a deal in place for next season – but if he likes Philadelphia, it would be a surefire way to stick around.

Next. Best free agent power forwards. dark

All eyes on the shooting guard free agency watch will be trained towards James Harden in the coming weeks.