The pieces of evidence have been piling up to support the notion that James Harden is not built for the playoffs. When can we see the real Harden show up, prove us all wrong, and tow his team to playoff glory? Sadly, we may no longer see that at this stage in his career. But he still has time to flip the script about his postseason performance.
James Harden a playoff bust
Narratives create or destroy a player. For James Harden, he’s been destroying the negative stories about him. Can’t co-exist with other star players? Debunked. Loves to visit strip clubs to party? His regular-season stats shut the critics up. However, with the recent narrative about him not being a playoff performer, The Beard might not have the time or the performance to prove the critics wrong.
Since he came to the league in 2009, he’s been to the postseason 13 times. Harden started in 106 games, won 78, and lost 71 times. James went to the finals once but lost against the Miami Heat as part of the OKC Thunder. When he left, the lefty scorer went to the Western Conference Finals twice. These achievements are impressive enough, some players haven’t had the luxury of playing in the playoffs or finals, but someone of Harden’s caliber should have been a champion already, given the stacked teams he’s been on.
Aries Spears lambasted Harden on VLAD TV and claims he turned into someone afraid to make commitments on the court.
“James is the biggest bust come playoffs time. Regular season, he’s a monster. Playoff time, he is a man ducking child support. He cannot be found!”
This season, it didn’t help that the Philadelphia 76ers failed to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Harden teamed up with Joel Embiid, and the front office gave up Ben Simmons to get him. In six games against the Miami Heat, James Harden registered four games with negative plus/minus on the court. In pivotal Games 5 and 6, The Beard recorded minus 29 and minus 16, respectively. While it’s inevitable that some stars have off nights, you don’t expect these poor performances to come from a superstar like Harden. It was a disappointment and another fuel to the criticisms against him.
What changed in James Harden’s game?
When the NBA changed its rules on flopping, the 76ers star had lessened his trips on the line. Harden earned a reputation as a foul hunter, and his free throws help him get into a comfortable rhythm whenever he struggles shooting the ball.
At this point in his career, James should not have to be the only one carrying the team on his back, and he doesn’t have to in Philly. Instead, he signed to provide playmaking and scoring support to Embiid. This is Jojo’s team, and he is the Alpha dog. If James didn’t do his part, that’s where the problem starts.
If those rumors of partying until early morning were true or he comes into training camp out of shape, those got to change. At 32 years old, he may have two to three years left to change the narrative against him. Winning a title erases all that. Delivering a good playoff performance may help flip the script, but until he puts his mind to improving his fitness and focus, the label playoff bust will affect his legacy and go with him even after he retires.