James Harden brings improvements to his playing style in pre-season


James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the first quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Wells Fargo Center on October 12, 2022 in Philadelphia.

It looks like all eyes are on James Harden as he prepares for the NBA season. While expectations about the Philadelphia 76ers are high, there is a great deal of pressure and curiosity about which former MVP version will take the court. Sixers fans were given the biggest chance to rate his play in the season finale as Doc Rivers gave the novices plenty of time on the court. He’ll be set in the regular season if he’s ever really going back into shape, but early signs of Harden’s off-season work look promising.

In the 99-94 win over the Hornets, Harden played 27 minutes Which is the most he has all pre-season. He finished with 17 points, five assists, three rebounds and one steal. His shooting performance from the field wasn’t perfect, 6-15 from the field overall, but he hit the ball with confidence and connected four of his eight three-point attempts. It was still just pre-season, but signs of increased dash and a willingness to try shots from the mid-range are encouraging.

Hardening to find fitness on Sixers

While it would be nice if the MVP version of Harden could still be around, that may simply not be in the cards this season. Given his role and level of play, this must have been a dream that was erased from the heads of Sixers fans.

It’s important to note that Harden’s chances are lower this season than the historical numbers he’s been putting up in Houston. During the 2018-19 season, Harden led the league in scoring with 36.1 points per game While he also added 7.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists. It also recorded the second highest usage rate in NBA history over the course of the season in 40.47%.

Now in Philadelphia alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, who also dominate the ball in their playing styles, that kind of influence isn’t possible. The 13.6 attempt to pay Harden averaged 21 games with the Sixers last season, his lowest average since the 2011-12 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers already have an MVP candidate on their team at Embiid and don’t need Harden to fill this role.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the superstar this season, with a full break to enjoy good health and more time on the field to find his role. While many were frustrated by the version of Harden wearing the Sixers uniform, finding his place within the team may have played a bigger role in this than is acknowledged.

Harden game changes

There have also been some notable changes to Harden that have already been shown throughout the run-up. The biggest swing factor in the type of player he will be able to be this season is if some of them are broke into the basket And the ability to create class returns. It wasn’t until the start of the season that it was clear what level of defense he was up against, but there were some promising signs.

Additionally, the Harden seemed more comfortable when capturing and taking pictures which were a major focus point. His solitary playing style has made him more comfortable relying on creating his own shot throughout his career. His famous triple graduated pointer is still a weapon, but it couldn’t be his only option as a circumferential shot. Given the oomph that Embiid requires, there will be pick-and-shoot opportunities for Harden to communicate. If he can hit those goals at a high rate, that bodes well for the Sixers’ chances.

The three-time scoring champ appears to have reintroduced the fired mid-range jump back into his game. This is the controversial shot Given the increasing importance of the three indicators and the analytical indication that it is not an attempt to score effectively. However, players still have to get what the defense gives them, and if Harden can connect at a high rate, it will still be a useful shot. It would also save a great deal of wear and tear on his body compared to constantly attacking the basket and seeking contact.

The real test will begin when the Sixers exit the regular season against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. He may not be a player at the level of MVP he once was, but if the 33-year-old can add these kinds of scoring to his game while still being the elite playmaker who has proven his Sixers, he’ll be satisfied.


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