“We give credit to LeBron James for being able to switch positions…Why can’t we do this with James Harden?”

James Harden received praise on Tuesday’s episode of “Swagu & Perk.” During the episode, Marcus Spears and Kendrick Perkins commented on Harden’s most recent performance in Game 4 of Philadelphia’s playoff series against the Miami Heat. Vintage James Harden appeared to be on full display during the game, even after moving to point guard.

Fresh off a big playoff win, Harden etched his name high on the headlines. Reviving the essence of vintage Harden, we saw James drop 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in his last playoff win for Philadelphia. In response to the screening, Kendrick Perkins expressed his opinion on Harden’s change as a player.

James Harden’s transition as a player needs more credit

Kendrick Perkins shed some light on Harden’s transition to point guard:

“We give credit to LeBron James for being able to switch positions…Why can’t we do this with James Harden?”

James Harden started his career as a shooting guard. Due to his dominance in this position, he was considered by some to be one of the greatest shooting guards and most prolific shooters of all time. Aside from his shooting, James offers even more to his teams. Harden has always been an enabler, even as a primary scorer, but officially earned a point guard title in 2016 when the Rockets gave him the title.

James Harden’s three most notable seasons would come after Houston’s decision to officially let Harden run the point. In the 2016-17 season, he averaged 29.1 points. Then, for the 2017-18 season, it jumped to 30.4 points per game. After that season, Harden averaged a career-high 36.1 points per game in 2018-19, followed by another big 34.3 points per game in his final season at Houston of 2019-20.

Perkins weighed in on Harden’s score:

“A guy who led the league in scoring for three years, right before our eyes, went from a shooting guard to a playmaker…Before he set up Tobias Harris, for set up Tyrese Maxey, for having set up Joel Embiid… He does that.”

Harden would then transition into a larger starting point role. He would then be traded to Brooklyn, where he would take on that role even more. After being traded from Houston to the Nets in 2020-21, Harden joined Brooklyn as a point guard, on a relatively fresh team.

Harden would average 23.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game during his 80 appearances for the Brooklyn Nets.

In the face of Kyrie Irving’s vaccination debacles, some KD injuries and other deplorables among the Nets, Harden’s frustrations seeped too deeply and he traveled to Philadelphia to once again adjust to a new role.

On the 76ers, James Harden took over the point guard role, complementing Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Danny Green and company. While adjusting to his new two-stroke role, Harden averaged 21.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 10.5 assists in his 21 games played for Philadelphia.

Following James’ growing success, even after changing positions and adjusting to new roles on new teams, Perkins said Harden deserved more love. LeBron James often gets big credit for his ability to change position on the floor. LeBron was drafted as a small forward and played virtually every position on the court. James even started as a center this season during the Lakers’ bad situation. A small forward going to point guard and center is arguably a bigger switch than a shooter going to point guard.

But either way, James Harden’s ability to adapt beyond just a filming role and step into the director’s shoes in the field is a big step forward. Maintaining status as a catch and shooter, or just a reliable deep threat, is one thing. But keeping that status while running the floor, seeing everything and everyone, and creating open plays like Harden does, is something else entirely. After all, the man has averaged annual double doubles over the past three seasons, he has adapted to new spaces.

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