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This season certainly didn’t end the way the Philadelphia 76ers or their fans were hoping. A six-game loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals was punctuated by an 11-point performance from James Harden that saw him take just nine shots and just one in the fourth quarter.
Acquiring Harden was a midseason coup for the 76ers but he was clearly a different player than in years past, struggling with his explosiveness and finishing from the beginning of the season with the Nets, right up through the end of the playoffs. The expert physical trainers of Twitter were eager to point to a lack of conditioning and a bit of extra weight as chief culprits for his struggles but former teammate Iman Shumpert says that’s exactly what you’d expect from a guy dealing with a hamstring injury.
What did Iman Shumpert say about James Harden and his conditioning?
In an interview with DJ Vlad, Iman Shumpert found his way offering a surprisingly reasonable (if hilariously worded) defense of Harden.
“Y’all mad at the man for having a hamstring injury and then putting on some weight?”
Shumpert went on to add, “His hamstring was hurt. He can’t do cardio! He’s gonna gain a little weight, man. I know y’all see he got the fat boy traits. He might have the build that get a little pudgy. It’s okay man!”
Nagging injuries have been an ongoing challenge for Harden the past two seasons and it’s reasonable to assume that, at age-32, some of his explosiveness may be gone for good. But he’s still among the most skilled offensive players in the league and can be incredibly effective as his athleticism wanes. If he can get healthy and stay efficient next season, Philadelphia 76ers’ fans won’t be complaining about how he fills out a jersey.