James Harden has consistently faded in big moments throughout his Hall of Fame career. It has led to him not winning a championship thus far and developing a reputation as one of sport’s biggest choker.
So, as he now enters the playoffs with the Philadelphia 76ers, the 10-time All-Star should be feeling suffocating pressure. Philly not only traded away a ton of players and assets to receive him earlier this year, but Harden ended the season in a shooting slump.
And while discussing Harden during a recent ESPN appearance, former NBA player Jalen Rose savagely trolled the Sixers star’s struggles. He made him the butt of a fantastic joke.
Jalen Rose trolled James Harden’s shooting struggles
The NBA Countdown crew recently discussed James Harden’s somewhat controversial comments. The three-time NBA scoring leader said he doesn’t feel any pressure heading into the playoffs.
“No, I don’t. I don’t (feel like he has anything to prove),” Harden said to Complex. “For me personally, I always want to go out there and play well and contribute in whatever way I need to contribute but for me, it’s going out there and playing my game, trying to help my team win. I don’t feel any pressure, I don’t feel any of that.”
When asked about the pressure Harden should be feeling this year, Rose took a shot at the 2017-18 MVP’s shooting woes.
“Philadelphia did something called the process, and teams passed them throughout that process,” Rose said on the April 13 episode. “…For Philadelphia to have a successful season, they’re gonna need to win the East. They were the No. 1 seed in the East last year – just last year. So, for James Harden, his stats gotta look more like his MVP years in Houston, where they were supersized. Now, they look like concert tour dates. I was just looking at them: 4-15, 4-10, 4-13, 3-12. He on tour. He gonna need to ball.”
That was savage but sadly correct. Harden needs to start shooting better as soon as the 76ers take the court in their first-round playoff matchup against the Toronto Raptors.
James Harden ended the season in a slump
The worst kept secret in the NBA is that James Harden has lost a step. He’s not as athletic as he used to be. So, he needs to adapt his game.
Harden has been an isolation king throughout his career, and he still heavily relies on it. He led the league in iso frequency this season (35.3% in 21 games with Philly and 31.8% in 44 games on the Nets). His field-goal percentage during those plays? He shot an atrocious 37.4% on isolation plays with the 76ers. In 2017-18 with the Houston Rockets, that field goal percentage was at 44.3%.
The Beard simply doesn’t have the quickness to consistently get by defenders anymore. He must play within the flow of the offense and not force the isolation if it’s not there. That should cut down on the games in which he shoots 4-for-15 or 3-for-12 (he made only 35.6% of his shots in his final eight games of the regular season), open things up more for himself along the perimeter, and create openings Joel Embiid.
James Harden is no longer the player he used to be, but he still has a lot of talent. It’s time for him to stop planning concert tour dates and figure out ways to get open within his team’s offense.
The pressure is, indeed, on.