Ever since the 2020-2021 NBA season, James Harden has caught a lot of criticism due to his weight and the shape he played in. As a disgruntled member of the Houston Rockets, many speculated that Harden was careless as he was pushing for a trade to another team.
Eventually, Harden’s wishes were granted as he was moved to the Brooklyn Nets. Going into what was supposed to be his first full season with the Nets last year, Harden was once again criticized for his shape as training camp approached.
His weight and shape have been a consistent concern as the narrative didn’t disappear when Harden was re-routed to Philadelphia to join the 76ers.
Harden looked forward to the offseason when the Sixers dropped their Game 6 matchup against the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2022 playoffs. Considering Harden was entering the offseason healthy, and in good spirits, he was hopeful he could get into optimal shape once again.
According to Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, Harden has been very communicative with his coaches and teammates this offseason and is reportedly in solid shape.
“Too much [contact],” Rivers joked when asked how much he talks to Harden on The VC Show With Vince Carter. “Too much, he calls me too much — you can tell him that. He really does. It’s been great. He’s working — he’s working his butt off. I think about nine of the guys were in town last week, and they worked out every day together. When you start seeing that kind of stuff, that’s the guys. That’s the players getting each other. When you see that, that’s a good sign. He works out with our development guys, and they report back that he’s in great shape.”
Harden has spent the 2022 offseason out in Los Angeles. As Rivers mentioned, several of Harden’s teammates, including Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, Paul Reed, Jaden Springer, and more, were out on the West Coast getting some workouts in with the seasoned veteran.
Not only has Harden improved the shape he’s in, but it seems the Sixers are putting a lot of work into improving their team chemistry as well.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.