How Will James Harden Fit With the Sixers Roster?
The Sixers won their first game since the James Harden trade, even though he did not step on the floor on Friday night. They will host Cleveland on Saturday, also without the services of their newly acquired superstar.
However, you can expect to see 'The Beard' soon. The team is hopeful that Harden will be ready to play when they host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night (listen on 97.3 ESPN).
While the Sixers won their first game without Harden, he is a huge piece to the puzzle if the Sixers have any hopes to winning their first NBA title since 1983.
While it make take some time to figure out how to replace those pieces, here’s what I do know. James Harden is by far the best scoring guard the Sixers have ever had in the Joel Embiid era and maybe ever.
"It could potentially be the potent offensive force in the league," said ESPN's Tim Legler as a guest of the Sports Bash on Friday. "It certainly is on paper. Nobody has that kind of combination. A guy that dominate on the perimeter and a guy that dominate as a big and both can score on every platform."
Legler explained how both Embiid and Harden can score from every spot on the floor. They can shoot the three. Take the ball to the basket, score in the paint, get to the line and hit the mid-range jumper.
"Nobody has that combination in the league," Legler added.
Legler admits there could be some growing pains early, with both players having an alpha mentality, wanting to score the basketball.
"Prior to the trade they weren't good enough," explained Legler. "They weren't good enough with Ben Simmons and they weren't good enough this year, because they didn't replace Ben Simmons with anything."
As great as Harden is, it will be interesting see how the Sixers replace the pieces that were sent packing with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. While losing Curry and Drummond is a concern, Legler explained that Harden will make the remaining player, better player.
"When you look at the players that Harden played with in Houston, he made those guys become household names as shooters that were really mediocre at best shooters."
Legler explained how Harden gives players an extra count, extra time to take the shot.
"If you're an average shooter or a below average shooter, nothing matters more to you than time," explained Legler, who was one of the top 3-point shooters in the NBA, winning the NBA Three-Point Contest in 1986 and ranks fifth on the all-time list, connecting on 43% of his triples.
"Every little bit of extra time makes you a better shooter," Legler stated. "You can get balanced, you're not rushed, you can focus more or finishing the shot and he did that for a bunch of guys in Houston."
So while Legler admits he doesn't like the depth of shooters the Sixers have, he argues that they will now get some of the best looks they have ever had, making them a better shooter than they have been in the past.
What about Harden's fit with Tyrese Maxey, who has been running the offense and has become a very good scoring option as his game continues to evolve. '
"Nobody in this situation will be affected more than negativity Maxey," Legler said. "I hate to say that because he has emerged so much this season. Now there is just no other way around it, he's just not going to have the ball as much. He is going to have to figure out how to be effective without the ball."
One way Legler say they can try to help, if staggering the minutes of Maxey and Harden. He suggests that on a championship team, that Maxey could be a combo guard that comes off-the-bench, in a Lou Williams type of role.
"You can't escape the fact the ball won't be in his hands nearly as much," Legler said. "Im worried about his development for sure and I'm curious to see what they do with him."
So in the end, how does Legler see the east?
"I put Philly No. 1. I put Milwaukee, two. Brooklyn, three and Miami No. 4."
We should get our first look at who Harden fits on Tuesday night.
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