James Harden is no longer the same dominant player he once was, and that was proven by his performance in the 2022 playoffs with the Philadelphia 76ers. For Tracy McGrady, though, he doesn't have to be the no. 1 option he was before with the Houston Rockets to help the Sixers succeed.
Many believe that Harden is already past his prime. While he still put up solid numbers during his first postseason with the Sixers–18.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.6 dimes in 12 games–he seemed to be a step slower and could no longer carry the scoring load that he's used to do.
At this stage of his career and with the pressure of winning a title, of course there are worries if he'll be able to thrive alongside Joel Embiid. According to McGrady, Harden can definitely do it. However, he advised the Sixers playmaker to start putting in the work.
“To make basketball number one priority. Make winning number one priority. Make 76ers number one priority,” McGrady said on The Rich Eisen Show when asked what advice he would give to Harden at the backend of his career.
“You’re playing with an MVP-caliber guy in Joel Embiid–who I think has changed his mind-frame on how he’s approaching the game now, how he sees the game-and he wants to win. I think if James can be that solid 20-and-10 type guy that contributes every night for the Sixers, they will be there in the conversation as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.”
Tracy McGrady certainly makes a great point. While James Harden is no longer as explosive offensively as he was a couple of years ago, he remains an elite talent. And with Embiid being the Sixers' top player, he no longer should feel the pressure and burden of scoring every time.
Sure enough, Sixers fans are hoping the Harden-Embiid partnership works. Philly has all the right tools to succeed, they just have to make everything work.