ESPN is currently revealing its annual list of their top 100 NBA players, and James Harden is the latest Sixer to make an appearance, coming in with an impressive ranking of 11th.
Despite some of his disappointing moments, he still averaged a quality stat line of 21 points (60.1 true shooting percentage), 7.1 rebounds and 10.5 assists to close the regular season with the Sixers. His shot creation and elite passing in particular had a huge impact in Philadelphia, and he clearly has the potential to improve next season.
That said, considering some of Harden’s athletic struggles and playoff shortcomings last season, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him slip a bit further down this list. For instance, behind Jimmy Butler, who had another brilliant year in 2021-22 and was dominant for most of his playoff run.
As the voters rank players based on what they expect for the upcoming season, they’re clearly high on Harden’s upside. If he really can get in the best shape possible, get his hamstring right, and benefit from a full offseason of intense training, then he does have the potential to bounce back into All-NBA form and prove he’s still in this top tier of players.
A couple of other Sixers have already appeared in this year’s ESPN top 100 as well. Tobias Harris came in at 56, while Tyrese Maxey soared high up the list at 44 (likely due to a combination of his leap in 2021-22 and the expectation that he’ll continue his rapid rise again next season). Next for the Sixers, it’s just a matter of waiting to see where Joel Embiid lands in the top 10.
It’s not long now until we can see just how Harden looks and what Maxey develops in his game next with the new NBA season fast approaching next month.