Sixers: 3 goals for James Harden in 2022-23 season

James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Goal for Sixers’ James Harden: Shoot over 50 percent inside the arc

Last season, Harden struggled mightily to finish at the rim with the proficiency we’re accustomed to. Those struggles are best reflected in his 2-point field goal percentage: a meager 47.6 percent. That was the first time since Harden’s rookie season that his 2-point percentage dipped below 50 percent.

If you want to focus more intently on finishes at the rim (where the majority of Harden’s 2-point shots come from, given his Morey-Ball style), Harden shot 52.8 percent on shots within five feet of the rim last season. By comparison, in 2019-20 (his last full season with Houston), Harden shot 61.8 percent on those same shots.

The Sixers need Harden to get to the rim more frequently, and they need Harden to convert more frequently once he gets there. Harden had trouble gaining separation from his defenders last season. Rather than cleanly turning the corner and rumbling downhill, he was often fighting through traffic with a hand in his face. He couldn’t elevate the same way either, which led to a lot more blocked shot attempts at the rim. He would do well to improve his in-between game as a backup (he shot 37.5 percent on shots 5-9 feet from the rim), but the Sixers need Harden returning to elite form on drives to the rack.

This number goes hand-in-hand with his points per game. If Harden is finishing on more shots at the rim, it will inherently mean he’s scoring more points. He left a lot of presumably easy points on the board last season. We’ll see if he can return to form in 2022-23.