‘I Wasn’t Right’: James Harden Ready For Major Bounce Back

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers, NBA News
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The 2021-22 NBA season was a roller coaster ride for James Harden. He began the season with the Brooklyn Nets, who had title aspirations with their Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. Those aspirations quickly went to the wayside as Irving refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, deeming him ineligible for most of the season.

That changed Harden’s outlook on things and he did the unthinkable. He requested another trade after being acquired by the Nets barely a year prior from the Houston Rockets. Brooklyn surrendered a lot to acquire him and didn’t come close to recouping that value when they shipped him to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Just as he was with the Nets, Harden struggled to produce with the 76ers compared to the high standards we had become accustomed to seeing him perform. His efficiency plummeted and he was unable to help get the 76ers over the hump in the postseason.

Part of the reason that Harden struggled is physical. During an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports, Harden revealed that he wasn’t right physically last season.

“I don’t really listen to what people are saying. I wasn’t right last season and I still almost averaged a triple-double,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “If anybody else had those numbers, we’d be talking about them getting the max. People were used to seeing me averaging 40, 30 points, and so they viewed it as a down year. I was in Philadelphia for a couple of months and I had to learn on the fly. That’s just what it was. I’m in a good space physically and mentally right now, and I’m just looking forward to next season.”

Harden was unable to do much during the 2021 offseason as he was recovering from injuries suffered during the postseason. That put him behind the eight-ball when it came to preparation for the 2021-22 season and it showed in his performance.

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Age could certainly play a part, as Harden will be 34 in August and has a lot of miles on his body. Harden was at times sluggish and incapable of impacting the game similarly to previous seasons.

His counting stats were still solid, as Harden averaged 22 points, 10.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 37.2 minutes per game between the Nets and 76ers. As he stated, those are numbers players would usually be lauded for, but he is held to a higher standard based on previous performance.

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If he can get back to good health, and with a full offseason to develop chemistry and cohesion with his teammates, Harden could help get the Sixers over the hump in what has turned into a very competitive Eastern Conference.

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