It’s been fifteen games into James Harden‘s tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers. And for the most part, we’ve gotten what you would expect from Harden. But at the same time, now what is wanted from him as a Sixers fan. He has averaged 23 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field. Harden is shooting 35 percent from the 3-point stripe. Not too shocking. For his career, Harden has hovered around the league average even in his prime years. But there is a glaring issue that may or may not have been brought up when we look at Harden: his explosiveness has been reduced to occasional fireworks showcasing his game, from the nuclear bombs that we’ve become accustomed to.
This Sixers team needs the James Harden that can single handedly win them a few games in the postseason. Not this version.
This version of Harden doesn’t have the same quick first step that made him a nightmare in isolation situations, and in the pick and roll. Defenses still have to pay attention to him, but the fear of a Harden explosion isn’t what it used to be.
James Harden has to provide more if the Sixers want to win the championship.
Now, maybe I’m being too hard on Harden. Everyone isn’t LeBron James, who seems to never age in his athleticism even after nearly two decades of league play. Maybe we’ve been spoiled. James Harden had a five-year peak that hasn’t been since…..well, The Answer himself.
Allen Iverson was the most dominant scorer in the NBA from 2000 to 2006, averaging 30 points per game, including his career high 33 points per game which was only eclipsed by Kobe Bryant’s 35.4 points per game in 2006.
James Harden is the second iteration of Allen Iverson. Just bigger, stronger, and left handed. But, it seems that he is starting to slow down at an earlier age than Iverson did. At age 32, Iverson was still averaging 26.4 points per game compared to Harden’s current average. That’s not a good sign for Sixers fans.
However, by that time though, Iverson had already been battle tested and approved. Harden is still carrying the burden of multiple playoff letdowns in Houston and Brooklyn. There still remains much for James Harden to prove as the playoffs near their start.
How much does Harden truly have left in the tank? For what the 2022 Philadelphia 76ers need, it isn’t enough to get them past the top four teams in the East. Only time will tell.
But one thing is clear: James Harden has to raise his game for this team to get out of the East. Joel Embiid needs help. Harden is here to give Embiid the help that he couldn’t get from Ben Simmons.
The fact that he has created more questions should be concerning for Sixers nation.
Is James Harden the Answer? No.
Is James Harden the answer? We’ll find out soon enough.