5. James Harden (written by Will Kofron)
James Harden is the most controversial Sixer and it is reflected in our aggregated rankings.
Harden is ranked fifth overall, with his lowest ranking being thirteenth. Last year it would have been crazy to rank him anything lower than three, and one could argue that even not having him two would be wrong, but Harden is extremely detrimental to this team.
He is already beginning his shenanigans by not showing up to media day, arriving at training camp
late, and then not being a full participant upon arrival. Even with his inclusion with the team thus far, there are still more questions than answers with James Harden.
It was not too long ago that Sixers fans saw a disgruntled player report to camp to presumably
get paid during the Ben Simmons saga, and everyone saw how that turned out. While the initial
reports seem positive, it does seem like there was too much damage done by Harden to ever have a full reconciliation. Most likely, this is a plan of his to build up his trade value to facilitate the trade that he desires, but there is a chance he tries tanking his value even more so that he burns all bridges in Philadelphia.
There are intangibles that play into James Harden’s roster ranking.
How he acts off the court and whether he actually suits up for the team is a factor in how he is ranked, but there are also his on-court abilities to be discussed. While he used to be a phenomenal regular-season player, Harden is clearly a much-diminished player at this point in his career. At best, he is a very good regular-season player, but even then he has rough stretches.
James is still an excellent passer, but his insane amount of lazy passes gets overlooked by fans and the media, and his assist numbers are inflated due to how much he has the ball. Harden often
takes the entire shot clock dribbling the basketball, and goes nowhere with it, before dishing it off to a teammate to take a last-second shot. On the stat sheet, Harden is not doing anything wrong
and teammates either bail him out and give him an assist, or make their numbers worse by taking a low-percentage look.
As a scorer, Harden is a complete shell of himself. He does not create any separation, and he has yet to evolve as a player. He needs to make changes to how he plays to succeed with his poor athleticism and predictability. He has never been a willing off-ball guard, and he only seems to enjoy playing with pick-and-roll centers, or no bigs at all to open up the lane. He is a poor fit with Joel Embiid as a result.
The biggest flaw of course is that he is arguably the worst postseason star of all time. He utterly
collapses in every big moment and can tank a team’s shot at winning any game single-handedly. It is fanciful to think this will ever change with Harden given where he is at in his career and the Sixers need to do everything they can to get him off the team.
While he did have two great games against the Celtics in the playoffs, the other five were disastrous and it is a miracle the Sixers were able to win one of those. No matter how well he plays in the regular season, any team rostering James Harden as one of their top players has a zero percent chance of winning the title.