When the 76ers acquired James Harden at the trade deadline last season, the city was ecstatic. Not only did they rid themselves of an ugly situation with Ben Simmons, but they managed to turn him into one of the best players of all time. Excitement turned to anger pretty quickly as the Sixers yet again failed to make it out of the second round, and Harden took a little too much heat for that.

Granted, Harden is no longer the player that he was during his time in Houston, that player was on a different planet. However, he showed flashes this season of that player again. It’s hard to believe that Harden is only 32 years old, it feels like he has been in the league forever. 32 years old may be old for a football player, or even for a baseball player, but 32 is not old by any means for an NBA player. We have seen plenty of players excel into their mid-30’s and Harden is no exception.

In fact, Harden averaged more total rebounds, assists, and a better free throw percentage last season than he has over the course of his career. The only stats that we’re down from his career averages were scoring statistics like points per game (24 career, 22 last season), 3 point percentage (36% career, 33% last season) and field goal percentage (44% career, 41% last season). If there is one thing that is for certain, it’s that James Harden can score as good as anybody in the NBA.

A lot of Harden’s lack of scoring can be attributed to sharing the court with players like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris as well as learning a new offense midway through the season. For the entire season, Harden was not required to be the number one scorer on offense, so he turned into a facilitator.

Harden may not have the burst that he had in his early 20’s, but he is by no means washed up. Having the ability to learn his role in the offense over the offseason will be huge for the Sixers and for James.

Pump the breaks on the Harden slander, he’s gonna be just fine.


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