James Harden is ready for his first full season with the Philadelphia 76ers, and he thinks he is as capable now as he ever was.
Despite all that Harden has been able to accomplish over the first thirteen seasons of his career, critics often call his conditioning into question. This has been amplified by lingering hamstring injuries that affected his mobility during his short stint with Brooklyn and the beginning of his time in Philadelphia.
When asked about his “terrific shape” as he entered this year’s training camp in a Media Day interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, the Beard said, “I’ve always said that if my conditioning can be level with my skill set, my IQ, and the work I put in, it’s MVP.”
Harden believes that he will return to MVP form for this upcoming season because of his lack of severe injuries in years past.
“A hamstring is nothing to play with; you know what I mean?” Harden said. “Fortunately for me, I’ve never had a serious injury throughout my time, in life in general. The last two summers with the pandemic, it was all recovery. All rehabbing and doing those other things. Now I get a full summer where I can actually play pickup. Working out individually and actually playing pickup and playing basketball are two totally different things.”
Although Harden has only won one MVP, he was the first runner-up on three different occasions and finished third in MVP voting as recently as 2020. During Harden’s nine seasons as a member of the Houston Rockets, he averaged 29.6 points per game, 7.7 assists per game, and 6.0 rebounds per game.
If Harden can integrate that production into Philly’s mix of talent, including fellow MVP runner-up Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and PJ Tucker, Philadelphia will be a formidable contender during the 2022-2023 campaign.