On Friday Evening in Minnesota, James Harden is set to make his debut for the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden will suit up for his third team in as many years. And this time, the pressure is on for Harden to make it work. There’s no denying the guard out of Arizona State can play. James was an MVP caliber player in both Houston and Brooklyn. However, when push comes to shove, Harden plays his worst basketball when the lights shine the brightest. He teamed with Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. And in his time with all of them, nothing to show for it.
And now, James Harden will have his third opportunity for a fresh start. But this time, however, he will be teaming with Joel Embiid. Embiid is the current front runner for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. In addition, he is pursuing the first scoring championship by a big man since Shaquille O’Neal over 20 years ago. Joel is coming off of a dramatic situation of his own, with Ben Simmons asking out of Philly after his playoff collapse. For both Harden and Embiid, this is the best chance they’ve had at being champions. And they better not screw this up.
How will Joel Embiid and James Harden fit together?
When Daryl Morey had the opportunity to acquire his old friend from Houston, he knew he had to take it. And quite frankly, it’s obvious to see why. The pairing of James Harden and Joel Embiid from a basketball standpoint is palpable. From a pick and roll perspective, their skills match perfectly. The dominance potential brings back images of Shaq and Kobe. However, it’s more like Hakeem Olajuwon and Julius Erving. It’s going to be work to make that dream become a reality on the court, but it won’t take much time to see the fireworks.
The question is less on what they can do on the court, but moreso what is off the court. Daryl Morey took a calculated risk putting this roster together. Not only does this roster contain injury concerns, but concerns of ego as well. James Harden has not gotten along well with any of his teammates. Locker rooms have seemed to flourish once he left, and once Harden doesn’t like his fit, he makes it known. In addition, Joel Embiid is no stranger to meme culture. And he is not afraid to speak his mind about teammates in the public.
James Harden will also be up for significant money after next season. And the 76ers have no choice but to pay him. Daryl Morey sent 2 first round picks to the Nets in pursuit of Harden, as well as Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond. They paid a hefty price to pay for the hopes of getting MVP level Harden. And they want that guy to maximize Joel Embiid. There’s genuine concerns as to whether or not these two can stay healthy. And if they’re not, then there’s just two star powered superstars with no genuine value to winning on the court.
Daryl Morey Went all in. And it’s time for James Harden to prove him right
Daryl Morey by definition went all in. When he traded multiple first round picks and multiple good players for James Harden’s services, that means title time is now. There have been questions about James Harden’s ability to get it done when it counts. However, Joel Embiid gives him his best partner in crime for his game. And it’s the best fit for the team too. It will maximize Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey too. It will give better open shots for Danny Green.
The Philadelphia 76ers could potentially have one of the best offenses of all time. The question, however, is can that offense last in the playoffs, and are they good enough to overcome Milwaukee? And did they also make the Nets better? What if they traded the players that eliminated you in the playoffs? And especially if Ben Simmons would deliver the final blow. There’s a lot that can go wrong here. However, there also is the chance that this could be huge. We could be seeing championship basketball in Philadelphia. And it’s only going to happen if James Harden takes them there.
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Featured image credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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