After the Golden State Warriors defeated the Phoenix Suns on March 13, Warriors star Klay Thompson singled out Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden when talking about going up against the NBA’s best shooting guards.
“I felt great,” Thompson said of his performance against the Suns via the Warriors’ official YouTube channel. “It’s the best I’ve felt all season. I cherish playing the other great twos like (Devin Booker) and Harden [and] DeMar (DeRozan). Whoever it is. I mean, when you get those matchups with the best players at your position, it’s just going to bring the best out of you. And, as a competitor, that’s what you seek.”
Thompson and Harden faced off multiple times in high stakes in the past, back when Harden was with the Houston Rockets. The two teams faced off in the NBA Playoffs in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019, all of which the Warriors came up victorious.
Harden may get his chance to take revenge should the Sixers and Warriors meet up in the NBA Finals.
Georges Niang Praises James Harden For Adjustment
In an interview with Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire, Niang praised Harden for how unique he is as a basketball player.
“I just think the way he thinks the game is so unique, and James doesn’t get enough credit for evolving his game. Obviously, when he came in last year, it was like scoring, point guard, and now he’s completely bought into being just completely unselfish and getting everybody else shots and getting everybody else in their spots.”
Niang praised Harden for his willingness to compromise a bigger role to fit better next to Joel Embiid.
“I don’t want to say take a backseat because he and Joel kind of go back and forth and like, who can score and then who can draw attention and pass, but I just think it’s a credit to him and how bad he wants to win to know that what the team needs is more important than personal goals,” Niang added. “You rarely find that in this day and age and then in the sport.”
Harden put his highest scoring average at 36.1 points per game with the Rockets during the 2018-19 season, compared to 21.9 with the Sixers this season, demonstrating his willingness to play beside Embiid when the two take the court.
James Harden’s Return to Houston a ‘Foregone Conclusion’
Bill Simmons of The Ringer gave an unsettling update on Harden’s free agency on his podcast on March 6, framing it like a “foregone conclusion,” as he put it.
“In the whispers circles, everybody seems to think he’s going back to Houston,” Simmons said. “I think the Houston part is just bizarre, really, since Christmas. (Adrian Wojnarowski) dropped that thing on Christmas, and it’s like, ‘Where’s this coming from? I’m about to watch five Christmas games.’ And now it seems like a foregone conclusion.”
Simmons then compared the situation to LeBron James, who had similar rumors tying him to the Los Angeles Lakers the year before he signed there.
“If you talk to anyone around the league, they’re like, ‘Yeah, Harden is going to Houston.’ It reminds me a lot of that LeBron-Lakers year,” Simmons added. “A year before LeBron went to the Lakers and everybody was like, ‘Yeah, LeBron’s going to the Lakers.’ I don’t know what to make of it.”
While that seems to be the popular rumor these days, a possible finals birth or even a title could potentially change Harden’s mind.