something interesting happens with scorer which reached its point of glory in a specific context and moment History of NBA. Players that when the course of the game has changed or they have lost their physical advantage (of any kind), its magic has faded, They never had any effect again, they fell apart or in the worst case they refused to accept the new reality. From Moses Malone through Allen Iverson or Bob McAdoo to Carmelo Anthony.
Only a select few have been able to change and adapt to their new reality, modifying their outlook or focusing on other aspects. This doesn’t mean playing less roles or playing less, but it is important to maintain the same amount of minutes and make a difference.
at the level of game master Oscar Robertson, like Rick Barrie or Chris Paul, who were also excellent scorers at the height of their careers, is now james harden, It’s been a long time since the best offensive version of beard he passed. Players capable of matching scoring monster records like wilt chamberlain or kobe bryantFinished in Top 3 for 4 consecutive years mvp And put a veteran team on the ropes. But he is also someone who has experienced a sudden drop in performance and physical deployment, which has made him a target of rival defenses.
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However, something seems to have changed after his poor 2022 playoff experience. It’s not that he’s just revising his shot selection. As Juan Estevez highlighted in this Medium a few months agobut is focusing all its efforts on becoming a The linchpin of the 76ers offensive system, something that is, to some extent, not new, but as a movement of resources towards its complete determination and attack net basis Yes it is striking. Especially when you take into account all of his past.
in the current season beard it is leading the NBA in assists per game (11.1) and A distant second, Tyrese Halliburton (10.2). a fact that makes him The player who generates the most points through those basket passes (29.0) This is his best career data and a definite step in his development as a player:
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Not that he can increase the amount of assists while maintaining the essence of his game, something that has already been seen in other cases, but he really wants and needs a game as a point guard. Wants to work as a director.
One information to show for it. James Harden receives the ball 73.4% of the timeit ends in a from to a classmate and yet he 38.3% in triples, His highest tally since his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder (39%).
And how is he doing it? on the basis of involving their peers in the work of flat lock As well as in infection. its main beneficiary joel embied who has gone from barely scoring to consistent The player with the most assists of all time in the entire NBA (6.8). The Cameroonian is scoring 55.2% on his attempts pick and roll, including 1.38 points per possession on shooting positions.
The arrival of James Harden has reduced the heavy attention Embiid receives from opposing defenses and has dynamized one of the worst offensive systems in the entire league in terms of variety of options. Yes, the African continues to dedicate 39.5% of his attacks to the low post, but more than a quarter is now represented by direct interceptions, where he is extremely efficient.
But Embiid isn’t the only beneficiary of this change, there are others such as Montreal Harrell, who produces 1.22 points When he plays a straight block with Harden. However, without doubt, this new aspect of La Barba allows third parties to enjoy launching or finishing options, as it draws all the attention away from the opponent’s defence.
His high number of points generated by assists can be explained as follows:
Harden’s physical decline means that he has also had to change his position on the court. In the past, it was most common to see him occupying his elbow, usually the right side, from where he prepared for a shot or an eternal dribble ending with a tray.
Now as the pivot of creation on the Sixers, he has moved to the head, a place from where he controls everything that happens around him, distributes the ball and finds teammates.
In this diagram you can see what their main passing areas are:
Adapting to new circumstances isn’t easy, especially when it comes to an MVP and one of the best scorers of this century, but James Harden seems to be on the right track.
After experiencing its lowest level of performance last year, at the age of 33, now beard He has found his place and role in a new attempt at glory, this time with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its organizations.