When James Harden had entered the Philadelphia 76ers, there was a lot of expectations form the duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden. Many fans were quick to dub them equal to the most dominant duo in NBA history. That is the duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
All the hype
Of course when this was first said many media of course waved it off considering to be the worst possible comparison when they didn’t even start playing yet. Shaq lost his mind when he heard of those comments and he asked people to stop disrespecting their dominance of accomplishing a three-peat some which only a few teams have ever managed.
When the pair first took to the court, they had an amazing debut together as they ended with a win. For a week it seemed that maybe they could pull it off. However, it was after that when Harden started declining at a rapid rate. His play did not match well with the team and he as missing out on a lot of shots.
Embiid kept his usual performance but Harden wasn’t helping at all. Harden was putting up numbers that Seth Curry used to score for the 76ers which means there is simply no change. However, the playmaking did help the team but it was not as effective as he was with the Nets.
The 76ers reached the playoffs as the 4th seed and they went head to head against the Toronto Raptors in the 1st round. They overcame that obstacle with a bit of a problem as it took them 6 games to decide the series. Harden was of not much help as some of his teammates were getting frustrated with him.
The worst had come to pass in the 2nd round of the playoffs when Joel Embiid was locked down by the Heat, so Harden needed to step up. He did show up in Game 4 of the series but then vanished again in the closing games. For the entire playoff run, Harden ended up with 18.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. What’s even more was that Harden used to provide some value to defense in his previous teams, however, this time he was completely ineffective.
Look on the other side, Kobe and Shaq were an incredible duo because of how they played. Both had domination in their mind and did not give up control to either of them. They brought out simply the best in each other. The result was them doing a three-peat cementing themselves as a dynasty.
Embiid and Harden are on completely different timelines in that aspect. While Embiid is in his peak years, Harden has already started to decline. It became apparent when he took a paycut when renewing his contract with the 76ers. In the end, they will be lucky if they can manage to win one championship when they have such brutal opponents to go through and it is only going to get harder form the next season onwards. Let’s see if the duo makes any noise or just perishes!