James Harden was sidelined for 14 games with an ankle injury, leaving a significant hole in the Sixers’ offense. With Tyrese Maxey going down as well, all of the weight was suddenly on Joel Embiid’s shoulders. Fortunately for the Sixers, they managed to stay at the .500 mark despite missing these key pieces. Thankfully, the Sixers finally got Harden back, and Maxey will be returning in just a few weeks. In just a few games, Harden has already impacted the team.
Efficiency is key
One of Harden’s most significant issues since becoming a Sixer has been his ability to shoot the ball at an efficient level consistently. In his days with the Rockets, Harden could hit almost any shot on the basketball court. However, since his more passive playstyle took over, we have not seen this from him much.
That being said, since coming back from injury, Harden has shot over 40% from beyond the arc, averaging over 22 PPG along with 12.5 APG. His ability to score the ball while distributing it at an even higher level is absurd. There have even been moments when Harden looked like he was back in a Rockets jersey. For instance, against the Kings, Harden hit three deep balls in a quarter, one of which was a buzzer-beater. He did so while making it look effortless. The individual offensive performances from Harden have been just what the doctor’s ordered for the Sixers. Even so, his impact goes way beyond his personal box score.
Harden’s impact on the team
Since Harden returned from injury, the Sixers have had an offensive rating of 120.4. That would be good for the second-best rating in the entire NBA. They have also been averaging a whopping 127.5 PPG over this stretch, displaying how impressive this offense has been with Harden back in the lineup.
The Sixers have also shot an other-worldly 46 percent from beyond the arc over these four games. The team with the best three-point percentage is the Denver Nuggets, and they have shot 39.6 percent so far this season. These ridiculous offensive numbers can be primarily credited to Harden’s ability to control an offense. He became the first Sixer in franchise history with 15+ points and assists in back-to-back games. If Harden can keep this level of play up, the Sixers could be a terrifying team once Maxey returns. Especially considering Embiid is also currently leading the league in scoring.