Plenty of Storylines for Sixers’ as James Harden Makes Debut Tonight in Minnesota
Philadelphia Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said pregame that 'there is a lot to learn offensively' as guard James Harden is making his debut on Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
We're about to find out if the Sixers duo of James Harden and Joel Embiid can co-exist.
Harden has not played since being acquired by the Sixers at the NBA Trade Deadline, but did not appear in the two games the team played while he was with the team and hasn't appeared in any game since February 2nd due to a balky hamstring.
With Brooklyn, Harden averaged 22.5 points, 10.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game, but what will he look like playing with Embiid, who is having an MVP-caliber of season, averaging 29.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.5 assist in 46 games this season.
So will Embiid's numbers take a hit? Will Harden's numbers improve?
Rivers is saying to over-thing this thing and has said incorporating putting Harden into an offense is not that hard.
“I mean, he’s just a terrific basketball player, so you don’t need to over-complicate it," Rivers said.
While he is correct in his assessment, there are plenty of questions.
Harden is a dynamic scorer, but has been at his best with a pick-and-roll type of player who rolls to the basket and can catch a Harden lob and dunk. That is not something Embiid has done a lot of so far since entering the league, so it will be interesting to see if the team uses him in that role.
My thought is, Harden is going to get Embiid plenty of easy looks, after the big man desalt with double and triple teams all season. One would have to think the double and triple teams would dissipate with Harden's arrival and free Embiid up for more one-on-one opportunities. Harden is one of the best pick-and-roll players in the game and having Embiid to play with should only add to the difficulty in defending both players.
Other story-lines to watch with Harden's arrival include and Curry, Drummond and Simmons departure include:
- Tyrese Maxey's role
- How will this help Tobias Harris
- Danny Green getting more open looks
- Backup center minutes behind Embiid
- Who picks up the shooting slack with Curry missing
- Who is the fifth starter
The Sixers take on the T'Volves at 8 p.m., a game you can hear on 97.3 ESPN.