The NBA Offseason has come to a close with the Philadelphia 76ers set to begin their training camp on Tuesday. Many of the players have returned to the area in preparation for the travel to South Carolina where camp will be held this season. This also has led to some early photos being released of the Sixers players in action. One player who is sure to have all eyes on him this season is James Harden.
After spending a total of just 33 games in Philadelphia last year during the regular season and playoffs, Harden will be looking to make a larger impression during the 2022-23 season. There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the health of Harden following a season in which he was bothered by lingering hamstring issues. With a full offseason to get himself into better playing shape, the hope is he can turn back the clock and elevate to the true superstar he has proven to be in the past. If the recent pictures are any indication, it looks as if Harden is in much better shape heading into training camp than he was when first arriving in Philadelphia.
There may not be another player in the NBA who has as much attention paid to his physique as James Harden. Just as his effort level has been seen to alter based on his commitment to the team, his fitness and body type seem to follow. The age-old phrase says that the camera adds ten pounds, but the fact these two pictures of Harden from 2021 are within a few weeks of each other is difficult to wrap your mind around.
There is not much more that Harden could do to prove that he is committed to the Sixers this season and invested in the team’s success. The former MVP declined his $47.4 million player option in favor of a team-friendly deal earlier this offseason. With this available money under the salary cap, the Sixers were able to add players like PJ Tucker, Danuel House, and Montrezl Harrell. He also has posted some incredibly encouraging workout videos that tease a new-found burst. Harden’s desire to contend in Philadelphia is clear, and he now has to prove it on the court.
Allen Iverson Looking Over Shoulder
The other notable part of this picture is the photo of Allen Iverson lurking over Harden’s shoulder. Iverson has one of the most impressive resumes of any member of the Sixers in the organization’s history. During the 12 seasons he spent in Philadelphia, Iverson was named NBA MVP, a nine-time all-star, won the scoring title four times, and led the NBA in minutes per game in five different seasons. The poster that is looming over Harden’s shoulder is the famed moment where Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in the Game 1 victory over the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals.
Iverson leaves huge shoes that are difficult for any player to fill and ones Harden won’t be expected to alone. The Georgetown product has publically shown support for Harden dating back prior to his arrival in Philadelphia, but has been especially excited since he joined the organization.
While he does not need to be Allen Iverson, the Sixers will be counting on dynamic guard play from Harden this season. There are plenty of reasons for optimism surrounding this Sixers roster but the team’s ceiling is greatly dependent on which version of James Harden takes the court. With an improved physique and the blessing of one of the organization’s best players, big things from the superstar may very well be on the way.