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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

James Harden’s Concerning Trend Should Give the 76ers Buyer’s Remorse

The Philadelphia 76ers have won the NBA Draft Lottery, which means they will likely draft #1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz. However, their new general manager has been saying that it ‘may not be such a bad thing to tank’ since doing so could net them a higher selection in next year’s draft.

The 76ers have been one of the most active teams in free agency, but it was James Harden’s concern for his health that should give them buyer’s remorse. Read more in detail here: when will ben simmons play.

In a nutshell, James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers breathed a sigh of relief on Friday. In Philadelphia’s 122-97 win against the Los Angeles Clippers, the 10-time All-Star scored 29 points, including 25 in the first half, to go along with 15 rebounds.

Harden did not seem to be the superstar the Sixers anticipated him to be before to that game. Instead of being revitalized by his midseason trade from the Brooklyn Nets, the 13-year veteran was battling to establish himself as a co-number one with MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid.

Given Harden’s output, age, and contract situation, the 76ers should be concerned about what the next few years will bring as the Beard reaches the end of his career.

James Harden’s stats in Philadelphia are similar to those in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden looks forward while standing on the court.

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden looks forward while standing on the court. The Philadelphia 76ers’ #1 James Harden looks on. | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Harden went from playing with superstar Kevin Durant (and sometimes Kyrie Irving) to playing alongside superstar Embiid after this year’s jaw-dropping trade deadline move. The 6-foot-5 guard, on the other hand, should have been in a better position to succeed.

Instead, the bulk of Harden’s time with the Sixers is eerily similar to his last stint.

The 2017-18 MVP averaged 22.5 points in 44 games with Brooklyn this season, his lowest since his days as a sixth man with the Oklahoma City Thunder. His ineptitude on the field was a big factor. The guard made just 41.4 percent of his field goal tries and 33.2 percent of his three-point attempts. With the exception of his rookie season, his 48.6% eFG% (effective field-goal percentage) was the lowest of his career.

Harden’s numbers have improved somewhat during his time with the Nets in Philadelphia. In 13 games with the Sixers, the 32-year-old is averaging 23.0 points while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three. Prior to Friday, though, the Beard had been on an eight-game losing streak.

Harden averaged 20.4 points on 35.6 percent shooting from Mar. 7 to Mar. 23. Despite making over six three-point tries each game, he was only hitting 25.5 percent of them. Since Mar. 4, he’s only had one game where he shot better than 46.7 percent from the field, which covers the bulk of his time with the Sixers.

The 76ers should be concerned about their Harden investment.

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When former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was named president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, it was clear that Harden would be a priority. Morey sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round selections to the Nets in order to reconcile with his former franchise player after the superstar made his emotions about Brooklyn obvious and not-so-subtly requested a trade.

Harden had his greatest years in Houston. It was here that he earned his lone MVP award as well as three scoring crowns. Even if Morey believes he can be, he’s no longer that player.

Harden, who is 32 years old, can still put up over 20 points every night. However, given his terrible field-goal shooting and reliance on free throws, it will become more difficult for him to take over a game. And, come postseason time, the 76ers will be eager for a superstar version of Harden to compensate for the depth they gave up to get him.

Instead, the 76ers will go with a James Harden who is gradually losing his shooting touch. Harden’s scoring figures would be quite troubling if it weren’t for his free throw shooting (he averaged over 10 attempts per game with Philly).

It’s not only how Harden’s decline will effect this season’s championship drive that makes this a problem for Philadelphia. It’s the reality that Beard will almost certainly exercise his player option after this season and re-sign with the Sixers on a mega contract. That would pay him $245.6 million over the following five seasons, according to Hoops Rumors.

In other words, through his age-37 season, Morey and the 76ers will be paying Harden franchise cornerstone money. And, based on what I’ve seen so far, he’s not going to be worth the money.

To justify the James Harden deal, Philadelphia has to win quickly.

Harden’s poor shooting, durability, age, or contract will not be a concern for the 76ers. So long as they can win the major one, that is.

The Sixers are within a half-game of the one-seed with a 46-27 record. Keep in mind that they were the top seed in the East previous season before losing in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. Philly will not allow it to happen again, particularly if it retains home-court advantage for the second year in a row.

Harden, of course, has never been regarded as a terrific postseason player. Aside from failing to go beyond the Western Conference Finals with Houston, the 13-year veteran has a career postseason shooting percentage of 42.8 percent in 137 games. That almost matches his current shooting % in 13 games with his new squad.

The Beard should benefit from his position as the backup to Embiid. The Process will be Philadelphia’s top dog in every playoff game, barring injury or foul problems. However, it doesn’t mean Harden can shoot 5-of-17 from the field and expect his team to win.

If Harden and Embiid lead the 76ers to a championship this season, the risk of extending Harden will be mitigated significantly. But there’s a high chance they won’t have a better chance to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy than this year.

Basketball Reference provided all statistics.

Stephen A. Smith Warns James Harden About the Risks of Partying in Philadelphia

The “philly basketball team” is currently in the process of trading for James Harden. However, this should give the 76ers buyer’s remorse.

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