For as great of a career as James Harden has had (and he's had a great one, as he's etched himself in the conversation as possibly the third-best shooting guard in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant), his basketball resume is lacking a signature postseason moment, in the eyes of many. Harden and the Houston Rockets came close to giving him a championship but fell short in 2017-18, which many attribute to Chris Paul suffering a fateful hamstring injury.
Harden tried his hand at taking a path through the Eastern Conference, joining the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers shortly thereafter. Harden found himself on the rough end of the stick in Houston, as the route in the Western Conference is as difficult as advertised.
ESPN's Jalen Rose says James Harden's playoff struggles with Rockets should concern Sixers
But although that shouldn't be held against him, it typically is. Case in point ESPN's Jalen Rose, who stated on ESPN's NBA Countdown that the Sixers should be worried about Harden's lack of postseason success as the franchise braces for another postseason run.
"I don't know in the playoffs what I'm gonna get from James Harden. For an all-time great player, he's had some of the biggest meltdowns in the history of the playoffs.
Double-digit turnovers against the Golden State Warriors. On a Houston team that missed 27 consecutive threes, an NBA record. And lost that series.
See the San Antonio Spurs series, where he had single digits at the half and looked disinterested."
Rose saying this is a bit of a surprise, as he's been known to be a Harden proponent, but also because he knows too much about the sport to pin a team's postseason shortcomings on one player.
But also because Harden's Rockets tenure didn't exactly tell the same story, as Harden's postseason averages of 28.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.7 rebounds tell a far different tale. Maybe Rose is basing the 2023 postseason as the end-all be-all.
If so, maybe Harden's 23 points and 13 assists in Game 1 of the opening round could be the start to changing his mind.