Sports

James Harden Landed In The Best Possible Situation For His Career

Tyrese Maxey #0 and James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers talk during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

 

James Harden has had a Hall of Fame career.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old has career averages of 24.9 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Numbers that are dwarfed by his nine-year stretch with the Houston Rockets – 29.6 points, 7.7 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game.

During that stretch, he was a nine-time All-Star, three-time scoring champ, one-time assist champ, and one-time league MVP.

If you take away his ninth season (only appeared in eight games before being traded to Brooklyn), Harden led Houston to the postseason eight times.

Five seasons saw them top the 50-win mark with one season topping the 60-win mark.

And if not for a Chris Paul hamstring injury, he may have an NBA title on his resume.

But since leaving Houston, Harden has not been the same player.

Hamstring troubles have sapped him of the burst that made him such a deadly isolation player.

Even still, he has averaged at least 21 points and 10 assists per game across 101 games with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden is no longer the dominant player he once was, but thanks to landing in Philly, he no longer must be.

 

Harden-Embiid Pairing a Perfect Fit

Harden’s fit in Philadelphia is as close to perfect as one can get.

While “The Beard” has played with talented big men in the past (Dwight Howard, Clint Capela), none of them have possessed the talent like Joel Embiid.

Howard and Capela were both athletic centers who could set screens and catch lobs at the basket.

But neither had the jump-shooting ability nor the handle that Embiid does.

While Harden seemingly lacks the athleticism that made him nearly unguardable at the height of his powers, that does not diminish his passing ability.

There is a reason Harden has averaged at least 7.0 assists per game the past eight seasons.

Paired with Embiid, the pick-and-roll they run is almost impossible to defend.

Drop under the Embiid screen, and Harden is a good enough shooter to hit threes.

Fight over the top or have the center hedge, and Harden hits Embiid with a pocket pass into open space.

Suddenly, the two-time MVP finalist has the ball at the top of the paint in a four-on-three.

And unlike past Harden teammates, Embiid can shoot the pull-up, drive to the basket, or make the correct pass.

Harden is not the fearsome scorer he once was.

But thanks to Embiid, he does not have to carry the scoring load alone.

 

Back Together with Morey

Harden being traded to the 76ers also meant he was reunited with his old GM from Houston, Daryl Morey.

Morey and Harden grew a unique bond from their time together in Houston.

Recently, Morey even stated there was a “mutual lovefest” between the two.

While it is always a feel-good story to see friends reunited, the more significant impact will be seen on the court.

No one else in the NBA knows the type of players best suited to surround Harden to allow him to succeed.

After all, Morey was the architect for those five 50-win teams.

And so far, the Morey impact can be seen in his first offseason with Harden as a 76er.

Danny Green was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night for De’Anthony Melton.

Melton is a 6-foot-2 combo-guard who plays dogged defense and has shot 39% from three the past two seasons on good volume (4.7 attempts per game).

P.J. Tucker and Danuel House were both signed to free-agent contracts.

Both players are former teammates of Harden from his days with Houston.

And while the memes of the “Philadelphia Rockets” circulated after news of the signings, both players are 36% shooters from three for their career and can switch across multiple positions defensively.

Most Sixers were too timid to shoot from three last season.

Morey has brought in three players who will not hesitate to launch threes off Harden dimes.

Between the off-court and on-court situations, Harden has seemingly landed in the perfect spot to close his Hall of Fame career.




Source link

Related Articles