Just 21 games into his tenure in Philadelphia, James Harden is finding it difficult to adjust.
After years of being "the guy" in Houston, the 10x All-Star has to concede to Joel Embiid, who is this season's leading MVP candidate. And with a scoring average of 21 points on just 40% shooting, he has fallen short of expectations so far.
In a chat with Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Harden addressed his struggles and detailed the difficult process of getting used to life on his 4th team in two years.
“I know that I’m not making shots,” Harden said. “But I’m one of the most confident players we have in this league because I put the work in. It is what it is. It’s a part of the game. … [I’ll] continue to work my [butt] off. Ain’t no other choice. Ain’t no time to feel sorry for nobody, feel sorry for myself. Continue to put the work in, continue to [stay in the] gym and you live with the results. That’s how I’m built.”
Even amid some of the worst statistical performances of his career, "the Beard" has not lost confidence in his abilities.
Now, it's time for him to start playing like the superstar we all know him to be.
“The solution is simple," said Shaquille O'Neal. "I wouldn’t have won my first championship if my other guy (Kobe) don’t average 28… They got another guy. They have a guy that has shown he can do that but hasn’t done that yet. First five games when they were on their honeymoon, he did that. But then he kind of faded. The solution is him. He gotta step up. Embiid is playing like an MVP, what you gonna do? I don’t know if he has the switch, I just know he needs to play at the superstar type level that we know he’s capable of. 15 assists is cool but you can’t go 3-12.”
At 50-31, the 76ers are 4th in the East and still very much in contention for the title. Don't be surprised if they put up a fight against the NBA's elite.
But the Sixers are going to need Harden at his best if they want to maximize their potential. If he doesn't get his act together soon, it could turn into a missed opportunity for the ball club.