Con #1 – he can be selfish in team situations
The entire basketball world knows Harden’s skill and scoring impact. But as a team player, he can be selfish at times.
Harden’s philosophy seems to be, because he is averaging 30 points a game, he shouldn’t have to commit too much more to conditioning or the pre-season. Though this concept has merit, the message that he sends to his teammates by turning up to pre-season out of shape, isn’t a good one. If the team’s best player isn’t in shape, this sends a terrible message to the other squad members and younger players.
Harden likes to do things his way, on and off the court.
Recently, he was late to training camp and then had to miss the start of the season after attending friend’s parties and what looked like partying in nightclubs as well. He broke the NBA’s COVID protocols and looks like, in some ways, he has stopped caring about his team’s culture.
On the court, he can also be inconsistent with his approach. This includes not trying on defense, and then not moving at all off the ball on offense.
It’s hard to know if some of the blame for this stuff should lie with the team for letting these things fly for so long, but clearly, there are cultural issues in this organization.
Harden could potentially benefit from a new situation, but these things are definitely red flags.
Pro #2 – he is firmly in his prime
The team that ends up trading for Harden, will get a superstar in the prime of his career. His regular season and playoff numbers are at all-time highs, and we have seen his efficiency at the rim, from three, and at the line reach higher marks.
Harden is 31, but because of his body makeup and game, he still has three if not four years of his prime left.
Harden’s game isn’t predicated on athleticism, more on strength, skill, and touch. This means, as more athletic players age out of their primes, Harden can stay in his.
He gets to the line because of his strength and ability to draw fouls. While his impressive dribbling ability and knack for creating space, means he can hit shots all around the perimeter as a long-range shooter.
His in-between game is also strong; he has a great floater that he can get to when he’s in the paint.
His passing ability isn’t going anywhere as well; he has one of the best pocket passers in the game in the pick and roll, and he also has a pinpoint pass to the corner. Most of these skills don’t require athleticism, mainly skill.
Harden is firmly in his prime years, and will be for at least another three seasons.