Cover Image for “I prefer aggressive James Harden to playmaking Harden”: Doc Rivers explains why The Beard needs to force the issue as a scorer more for the Philadelphia 76ers

“I prefer aggressive James Harden to playmaking Harden”: Doc Rivers explains why The Beard needs to force the issue as a scorer more for the Philadelphia 76ers

Hemanth Amar
|Tue Mar 15 2022


James Harden is a three-time scoring champion and one of the NBA’s most dangerous scorers.

The 6’5 guard has the ability to push his way into the paint and score at will. Harden averaged over 30 points per game in the 2016-17, 17-18, and 18-19 seasons.

Harden was named MVP in 2018 and is a 10-time NBA All-Star, three-time scoring champion, and one-time Assists leader.

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James Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond earlier this year on the trade deadline.

Before Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center, the point guard had gone 8-for-36 in his previous two games.

Doc Rivers want James Harden to be James Harden: Sixers coach asks the Beard to play aggressively

Despite the Sixers’ overall success since the trade deadline, Rivers has seen enough to know how he would prefer Harden to contribute.

And it wasn’t how he performed on Sunday when the Sixers needed overtime to beat last-place Orlando.

“I prefer the aggressive version of James to the point guard version of James,” Rivers added, “because he’ll be a point guard regardless of his instincts.”

On Monday, Harden was aggressive enough to go 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, scoring 24 points, and dish out 11 assists in 39 minutes.

“I’m just figuring it out, man,” he explained. “A lot is going on.” The game has a lot of moving parts. You obviously have Jo (Embiid) out there and want to get him shots, but you also have to stay aggressive. We’re just trying to figure out when to be aggressive and when to be a playmaker.

“It usually doesn’t take me long, so I’ll figure it out soon.”

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If Harden ends up leading the NBA in assists and Embiid wins the scoring title, Rivers will be happy.


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