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Following the 2022 NBA Playoffs, many questioned whether James Harden was still a superstar caliber payer or not. Although Harden picked up his ninth and tenth All-Star accolades for his stint with the Brooklyn Nets, his scoring decline led many to believe he won't return to that max player form.

With the Houston Rockets, Harden was the top scorer in the NBA for three seasons. When he landed with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden averaged 23 points over two regular seasons and 20 points in the playoffs.

A move to the Philadelphia 76ers wasn't expected to drastically boost Harden's scoring numbers, considering he was going to join the league leader, Joel Embiid. However, Harden's scoring numbers continued to decline as he averaged 21 points in the regular season and 18 points in the playoffs with the Sixers.

The star guard claimed that a lingering hamstring injury affected his approach to the game over the last couple of years. Looking forward to having a healthy offseason with the Sixers, Harden is confident as ever in his ability to bounce back and silence his critics.

At the end of Philly's playoff run back in May, the Sixers made it seem as if they've accepted that the Houston Rockets version of James Harden is in the past, and his playmaking will be prioritized over his scoring in 2022-2023.

However, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers recently stated that the veteran All-Star's role is only growing bigger in Philadelphia, and they continue to have high expectations for the 33-year-old.

"I think we've talked so much about him being a facilitator, but I need him to be James Harden too," said Rivers on SportsCenter this week. "If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don't know, but that's what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, 'Do both.'"

Harden acknowledged that he wouldn't have to average 30 points per game to keep his team competitive, as he'll be sharing the court with the reigning scoring champion, Embiid, this season.

But the former NBA MVP made it clear that he's confident in his ability to possibly enter the MVP conversation once again this season.

As Harden's conditioning improved along with his health after battling a nagging hamstring injury, it seems Rivers and the Sixers organization is sold on the star's comeback campaign. Therefore, he's expected to have a bigger role for the Sixers this season. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.