- James Harden will make his Sixers debut on Friday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
- The Sixers have moved from -1.5 point favorites in that game to -2.5 with Harden included in their line-up.
- Harden’s wins shares per 48 minutes of .136 is his lowest since his rookie season.
The Philadelphia 76ers will finally have James Harden on the court when they return from the All-Star break.
After an unofficial announcement by Sixers President Daryl Morey, NBA writer Shams Charania confirmed that the 2018 MVP will make his Sixers debut on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Harden Will Make His 76ers Debut On Friday
James Harden will make his 76ers debut this Friday vs. Timberwolves pic.twitter.com/v98JH74fPL
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 24, 2022
Harden has not played since February 3, when he was still with the Brooklyn Nets, due to a hamstring injury. The 32-year old guard sat out his final games with the Nets and has remained on the sidelines since he was traded to the Sixers at the trade deadline. To date, Harden has played in only 44 games this season and is averaging 22.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game while shooting just 41.4% from the field, his lowest since his rookie season, and a career-low 33.2% from three-point distance.
Despite being a -500 betting favorite not to be traded by the Nets and with only a 25% probability that he would be traded, Harden went on to be the centerpiece of the deal that finally sent disgruntled guard Ben Simmons out of Philadelphia. Simmons had been holding out since the start of the season after requesting a trade. The Sixers got several offers from other teams, but Morey wanted his man and in the end, he got him, but at a steep price.
Aside from Simmons, the Sixers parted with shooting guard Seth Curry, back-up center Andre Drummond, an unprotected 2022 first-round pick (with the right to defer it to 2023), and a Top 8 protected 2027 first round pick. In return, the Sixers got veteran forward Paul Millsap along with Harden and an opportunity to contend for the title this season. Immediately after the trade, the Sixers shot up the title odds boards from +1800 before the trade deadline, to +1200 days before the deadline, and to +700 after the trade. Currently, Philly has the 5th best odds to win the 2022 NBA title at the BetOnline App.
76ers Odds Move From -1.5 to -2.5
James Harden will make his @sixers debut on Friday at Minnesota.
76ers have moved from -1.5 to -2.5 at Wolves. (@BetMGM)
— John Ewing ? (@johnewing) February 24, 2022
The Sixers head to the second half of the season with a record of 35-23 SU. They are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference, just three games behind the leader Chicago Bulls who are at 39-21 SU. Philadelphia has 24 more regular season games left to play and they have the 10th toughest remaining schedule in the league with their remaining opponents having a combined winning percentage of .505. It’s not going to be easy but that’s what they got Harden for.
Philly will return to action on Friday when they visit the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. The Wolves have won seven out of their last 10 games and just defeated the 3rd seeded Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night at home. The Sixers opened as -1.5 point favorites in that game but with the confirmation that Harden will play, the Sixers are now listed as -2.5 point favorites, which may not be the difference Sixers fans were expecting with the addition of Harden.
But while Harden has been putting up great numbers this season, he was not much of a difference-maker in Brooklyn. Harden’s current win shares per 48 minutes are just .136 which is the lowest since his rookie season. His BPM ( box plus-minus) of 4.1 is at its lowest since he was still with the Thunder as a bench player. In short, this has not been a typical James Harden season but the Sixers are hoping that the change in scenery will bring out the old James Harden back.