Why Sixers’ James Harden will look better: Time to reckon with change
There were times last season where it was painfully obvious that Harden’s ambitions exceeded what his body was capable of. He has slowed down considerably, and while we should expect better conditioning after his first full summer of training in two years, there’s another reason this offseason will be so beneficial: it will give Harden time to reckon with the current state of his body.
Remember when Chris Paul appeared cooked in Houston, to the point where the Rockets traded him with picks for Russell Westbrook? Well, Paul dedicated that summer to improving his body and getting back from the countless injuries that had dragged him down (hammy included). Harden is not CP3, and Harden’s game has always required more force and explosiveness than CP3’s, but the general principle is the same. Harden needs to get comfortable with what his body is currently capable of giving, and then he needs to tailor his approach around those limitations.
Should Harden embrace the in-between game more? Floaters and mid-range pull-ups? Probably smart. Should he work tirelessly to get comfortable with spot-up 3s? Absolutely, he’s Joel Embiid’s teammate. There are ways for Harden to improve over last season even if he doesn’t recoup much of his lost athleticism.
So, in short, it’s do-or-die for Harden this summer. And, while there has been a lot said about Harden’s conditioning and desire to win lately, you don’t get to be one of the greatest offensive players ever without working hard. I will go out on a limb and say Harden does, in fact, want to win.