the Philadelphia 76ers they believe they have a championship-caliber roster to enter the 2022-23 season. After negotiating a trade deadline deal for James Harden last year, Philadelphia dropped the toronto raptors in the first round, and lost a tough six-game series to the Miami Heat in the second round with superstar center Joel Embiid playing through multiple injuries.
The Sixers have now had a full offseason to integrate Harden as they spend the summer improving the roster on the margins. East should it will be one of the best teams in the East, but it will require Harden to reestablish himself as one of the best shooting guards in the league after a low year by his standards last season. We named him one of nine NBA players with the most to prove before the new year.
The Sixers certainly have a lot of talent, led by Harden and Embiid, but they’ll need to find cohesion. That process begins in the preseason. When the Sixers opened training camp, there was a viral video of head coach Doc Rivers training Harden that was great to see.
This is a rare peek behind the curtain of what goes on in NBA practices. Fans are smarter because of access like this, and it’s a great way to grow the game.
In the clip, Rivers talks to Harden about needing to establish Embiid this season. He says that Harden is a team leader and he needs to show everyone else how to get the big man in the middle going.
“We were horrible, do you agree? — horrible post-passing team last year,” Rivers tells Harden. “Our goal is to get that first. That’s why you need to have the right spirit about it. Make them do it right.”
“What I have to clarify is when to roll, when to burst, when you have the ice. You and him, you have to have a communication where you listen to each other.”
Rivers also pressures Harden to find his own touchdown. Harden led the league in scoring for three straight seasons averaging more than 30 points per game when he was in Houston, but his scoring numbers have dropped the last two years. He only scored 21 points per game after being traded to Philadelphia.
“We have to get you what you want,” says Rivers. “You can’t just say you’re a facilitator. You have to be a scorer and a facilitator. It’s going to take time to find out. We need you to be the aggressive James that you were in the last five minutes.”
Rivers also tells Harden that the rest of the team should line up behind him and Embiid.
“We have to establish Joel and you,” says Rivers. “There is a hierarchical order, this is not a democracy.”
The Sixers added PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House during the offseason, and still have Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Paul Reed. This team should be great if they can find the chemistry that Rivers is looking for. It’s great to see that process begin to unfold.