James Harden’s fit with the Philadelphia 76ers has been a big topic of conversation. Speaking recently on the Road Trippin’ podcast, Richard Jefferson said the upcoming season will be the most important of the 10-time All-Star’s career:
“This is the most important year in James Harden’s career. We know the awards are there, we know the greatness is there. There was actually a small drop and people have now questioned it. And so they really questioned him and it was like in the postseason, he struggled, he admitted it, he takes less money.
The former NBA champion also stated that expectations for Harden are ridiculously high. Jefferson continued:
“So when I say this is going to be the most important year, is it because he’s going to reclaim his place as one of the top ten players in this league? If we put our expectations on him to give you 20, 11 and seven, which is amazing, then someone like Tyrese Maxi or Tobias Harris has got to step up. Someone else on offense needs to step up.
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James Harden joined the Sixers midway through last season to make a deal with Ben Simmons. Many believed that Harden and Joel Embiid will help Philly fight for the title. Unfortunately, they lost to the Miami Heat in six games in the conference semifinals.
Harden averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 21 games with the Sixers. Those numbers are shockingly low for James Harden. During his Houston days, he averaged over 30 points per game for three straight seasons.
James Harden thinks he can have an MVP season
The last few years have been a rollercoaster ride for Harden. The three-time top scorer struggled with hamstring injuries and didn’t look in top form last season.
However, the former MVP believes he can reach the level he showed before the pandemic. In the 2019-20 season, Harden won his third straight title and averaged 34.3 points per game that season.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Harden said he felt great and was out of rehab for the first time in two seasons. He highlighted some things required for a season at MVP level and expressed his confidence for the new season. Harden said:
“Training individually and playing pickup and playing basketball are two completely different things. It’s a different kind of conditioning. So I haven’t had that for two and a half years. For me I’ve only had a whole summer I don’t have to worry about rehab, just be myself and train and play pick-up and enjoy basketball again.
“I’ve dedicated myself to being at my best because I’m getting older. I’ve always said that if my condition matches my skills, IQ and the work I put in, it’s MVP. And I feel like my condition is where it needs to be. So I’m in a really good place, I’m healthy and I’m looking forward to getting started.
When healthy, the Sixers are undoubtedly one of the favorites to win the East next season. A lot of that will depend on Harden and his chemistry with Joel Embiid.