"James Harden is not the player what everyone saw in Houston here" - Bobby Marks asserts talented shooting guard will be a major topic of discussion for 76ers in offseason

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six
Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six
Yash Verma

James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers face a tricky situation going into the 2022 offseason.

Harden is eligible for a $223 million max extension, but his performances likely will not merit a $62 million payout at the age of 37.

ESPN's NBA front-office insider Bobby Marks spoke on the 76ers troubles in the offseason, particularly those around Harden:

"Certainly the toronto series there were signs, Harden played great in Game 6, there were signs in Game 1 and 2 (of the Miami Series), without Joel Embiid, the struggles he had, and when you look at Games 5 and 6 that's the James Harden for most of the season here...James Harden is not the player what everyone saw in Houston here" (via) ESPN
Bobby Marks said on todays Lowe Post that “two years from now, we’ll be talking about James Harden the way we do now about John Wall and Russell Westbrook.”

In his article, Marks suggests a contract that mimicks Chris Paul's. A shorter term deal with a better payout, resembling that of LeBron James, is also a worthwhile consideration.

The James Harden situation

Joel Embiid, left, and James Harden.
Joel Embiid, left, and James Harden.

James Harden has truly never been the same since injuring his hamstring in 2021.

When the 76ers traded away the perceived dead-weight contract of Ben Simmons and two of their premier bench players (Seth Curry, Andre Drummond), the expected outcome was certainly to create a one-two punch of titanic proportions, with the former MVP and the leading MVP candidate at the time.

However, a bruised and battered Harden could only get the 76ers so far. After a torn ligament and a fractured orbital, Joel Embiid found himself wondering how the 76ers let go of Jimmy Butler.

Daryl Morey on James Harden’s contract: “It’s a mutual love fest, so we feel like we’ll work it out.”

Harden's game has suffered severe blows, something Bobby Marks explains meticulously in his article.

Harden went from being the premier driver and three-point shooter to a facilitator who would occasionally take it to the hole.

A look at how many shooting fouls Harden has drawn in the 2021-22 season as compared to his average during his prime years in Houston gives us a clear picture of how things have changed:

Season (excluding Playoffs)Shooting Fouls Drawn
2015-16 to 2019-20323.6

Data: Basketball Reference

Harden has suffered a 28% drop in shooting fouls drawn this season as compared to his prime years in Houston.

The argument that his drop is solely a function of the rule change can be discarded by looking around the league. Trae Young has suffered a mere 5% drop in shooting fouls drawn (compared to the last two seasons), while Stephen Curry has suffered a 12% drop this season compared to the last three (excluding 2020-21).

Edited by Chad Marriott


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