Back in 2019, Kobe Bryant had reasoned that the playing style of James Harden was never going to win him any championships.
Another year, another disappointing exit from the playoffs for James Harden. This season, probably no other player was favored to win the championship as The Beard. After having shared the court with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, the former MVP demanded a trade and joined forces with Joel Embiid in hopes to lead the Sixers to 4th title.
However, Harden seemed to have disappeared in the postseason this time around. Playing with “no pressure” in these playoffs, the 10-time All-Star had his lowest PPG, FGM, and FTA since he was in OKC.
Putting up merely 5.3 points on 28% FG in all of the second halves of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Heat, James underperformed and how.
James Houdini this series
1st half: 2nd half:
12.8 PPG 5.3 PPG
7.8 FGA 5.3 FGA
49 FG% 28 FG%
46 3P% 25 3P% pic.twitter.com/Vl5QDAMUP6
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 13, 2022
To be honest, this shouldn’t come as shocking. Back in 2019, Kobe Bryant had given a brief explanation as to why the southpaw was never going to win any championship because of his unique playstyle.
“With one player dominating the ball, it won’t win championships”: Kobe Bryant on James Harden
A few years back, The Black Mamba had explained how Harden’s incredible offensive output would not support him to win championships. In an interview with “The Jump”, Kobe further stated:
“I’m not a fan of it, in terms of winning championships. I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships. But at the same time you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games and he’s doing that.”
Host: “So are you saying you don’t think James Harden and the Rockets, as constructed, can win a title?”
Kobe: “Not with this style of play, it won’t win. With one player dominating the ball. What he’s doing is absolutely remarkable though. It’s a testament to how remarkable it is because people are now trying to minimize what it is that he’s doing. He’s doing some phenomenal stuff.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 4, 2019
Despite playing in a team with several players to share his offensive load, Harden was unable to go past the second round, let alone win the championship.
Definitely, this is a matter of concern for Harden and the Sixers front office. However, it will be interesting to see whether or not the organization reworks its strategies and figure out the best position for Harden to be the most productive he can be for the team.