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Joel Embiid wants James Harden to be more aggressive

In only 13 games, Embiid figured out he's going to have to work on Harden not flaming up in big moments.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid talks with guard James Harden

Joel Embiid is pushing James Harden to be more aggressive

The Philadelphia 76ers have played 13 games since acquiring James Harden. In those 13 games, they’ve won nine and are currently standing in second place of the competitive Eastern Conference standings.

In retrospect, that’s not so bad and so much better than the state the Sixers were in before trading for Harden.

But with Harden already playing 13 games for his new team, there’s already enough sample size to analyze his performance as a Sixer. One of the most notable feedbacks about Harden’s tenure so far is from no other than his teammate and MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who had something to say about what he wants to see more from Harden.

“I think all of us, especially him, are still trying to figure out how to help everybody out but you know, it’s James Harden. I told him I don’t care what everybody says, just be yourself. Fricking just score the ball, be a playmaker. He’s been trying to playmaker a lot but at times I also want him to be aggressive, look for his own shot and all that stuff,”

Joel Embiid, The Draymond Green Show

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The Sixers’ impressive numbers

It’s pretty notable that even if Embiid wants Harden to be more aggressive (and rightfully so), the Sixers are still excelling on offense. Embiid and Harden are +89 for all the 295 minutes they have shared on the court. In these 295 minutes, they’ve developed an offensive rating of 122.5, a defensive rating of 105.7, a net rating of 16.9, and a total shooting average of 63.2 percent — all of which rank number one in the league.

Harden has shown his struggles to come up big in high-stakes games, but he’s also proven how lethal Philadelphia’s offense can be if he’s aggressive enough. The key for Harden is to avoid choking, especially in the Playoffs (when he’s needed the most), and make sure the Sixers’ ball movement is fluid enough instead of depending on ISO-basketball.

No locker room concerns in Philly

It also seems that Harden and his new teammates have started on the right page. According to Embiid, the former MVP has been nothing but a positive addition to his team. Unlike in Brooklyn during Harden’s tenure, the Sixers’ locker room is the opposite.

From all the stories you hear about that, it’s completely different. Fun guy to be around. Positive energy as always since he got here. He’s all about timing and some situations are different from others. I don’t know what happened over there, maybe he wasn’t in the best situation. I would imagine he put a lot of thought into making that decision because you’re in a team with fricking Kevin Durant,” Embiid, who backed up Harden, said.

Looking at the entire spectrum, Harden’s time with the Sixers has been productive, especially considering how many games they’ve won so far. However, there are still concerns with this Sixers team moving forward, and Harden’s performance in the playoffs is on top of that list. 

The goal for the Sixers is to continue to build chemistry each game and just like what Embiid said, the Sixers are “focused on finding ways to get better every single day.” 

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