Can James Harden return to form? He might already be on his way

Heat 76ers Basketball
Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden reacts during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Yesterday, a video of James Harden arose in Houston, seemingly finishing a workout via Pro Basketball Trainer Chuck Ellis of Chuck-Ellis Workouts on Instagram. In the video, Harden seems to be looking slim and fit. Overall, he looks to be in a focused state of mind already back in the gym while only being a few weeks removed from the 76ers‘ series loss to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs.

This video leads one to wonder what type of player we could see in James Harden if he is committed to his body and winning this offseason in preparation for next season. Harden is not the same player we have once known while he was in Houston — that is, a three-time scoring champ, MVP, and six-time All-NBA First Team level player. Although he has declined some, Harden can still be a very productive and effective player in the NBA and more so for the Sixers.

The biggest question for Harden is how much he has declined and how much is it because of injury. In the remaining games of the regular season and the playoffs, It was clear Harden struggled to get past defenders or create clean shots for himself. This led to many questions wondering if James Harden is done. That might be a bit early, as Harden hasn’t had a full offseason to train without rehab.

To put this in context, since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets during the 2020-2021 season, Harden has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury. He dealt with this injury nearly his whole tender there, even delaying his on-court appearance after being traded to the Sixers. This offseason will be the first time James Harden will have a full offseason to train and not have to rehab his hamstring in the past couple of years. With this opportunity to solely focus on his body, his game should result in a better play next season.

Being conditioned and having a fully healthy James Harden will be a major boost for the Sixers going into next year, and this video speaks to his mindset for next season already, as being in “workout mode” while only weeks removed from being eliminated from the playoffs. You can’t gloss over the facts of not attempting shots late in games or giving the Sixers the boost they needed offensively from their second star. You can’t say James Harden will be the Harden of the Rockets, but a healthy and focused Harden can only bode well for this team going forward.

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