James Harden believes he's unselfish. NBA fans disagree.
The guard explained Thursday that he can accept a smaller role with the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to his unselfish mindset:
SiriusXM NBA Radio @SiriusXMNBA
"I'm one of the most unselfish players probably that this league has ever saw"<br><br>James Harden says this season will be different than previous years.<a href="https://twitter.com/BGeltzNBA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BGeltzNBA</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/SamMitchellNBA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SamMitchellNBA</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a> <a href="https://t.co/qvU0wQD3jH">pic.twitter.com/qvU0wQD3jH</a>
Harden won three straight scoring titles with the Houston Rockets from 2017-20, but he said Thursday he didn't need to score as much once he joined the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He also said he can take a backseat next to Joel Emiid in Philadelphia.
"You can't come in here expecting to average 30 points, so again, finding ways to impact the game," Harden said of the 76ers.
Fans weren't as convinced, mocking the superstar's initial statement:
The 10-time All-Star is certainly more than his scoring as one of the top triple-double threats in the game. In 21 games with Philadelphia, the veteran averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Harden averaged 10.3 assists per game across 65 appearances with the 76ers and Nets last year, ranking second in the NBA behind only Chris Paul.
Though he often gets mocked for his defensive effort on social media, Harden finished last year with 2.7 defensive win shares, per Basketball Reference. This would have ranked second for Philadelphia over the full season, with only Embiid posting a better mark.
With Embiid set to return as an MVP candidate and Tyrese Maxey emerging as one of the bright young stars in the league, Harden can take on a smaller role while helping the team 76ers contend for a title.
Of course, the term "unselfish" could take on different meanings for NBA fans.
Harden was traded midseason in each of the last two years after ugly exits from the Rockets and Nets. It will be up to the 33-year-old to prove himself on and off the court in 2022-23.