After James Harden made his long-awaited debut with the Philadelphia 76ers, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey raved about Harden’s talents on the court.
Morey’s ecstatic reaction came after the 76ers routed the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
“I try not to get too high or too low, but that was a good one,” Morey told ESPN after the game.
Harden got to play with new teammate Joel Embiid, and it seems like Morey is expecting the duo to deliver big things for the Sixers.
“James is a basketball genius,” Morey said. “And he’s been wanting to play with Joel for a long time. I think he’s always thought Joel was, like, the perfect guy to pair with him.”
In the rout of the Timberwolves, Harden finished with 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Those numbers meshed well with Embiid’s 34 points and 10 boards.
Morey’s acquisition of Harden earlier this month was the second time that he had acquired the superstar. The first time came when Morey was in the Houston Rockets’ front office, and Harden eventually won MVP honors with the team.
The hope for Morey and the 76ers is that adding Harden will help give the team a needed boost during the remaining part of the 2021-22 regular season.
Friday night’s win gave the Sixers a 36-23 record, the third-best mark in the Eastern Conference. At the moment, they’re just 2.5 games behind the Miami Heat, who are first in the East with a 39-21 record.
While Harden provides the 76ers with plenty of offensive ability, he’s yet to be part of an NBA championship unit.
As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden helped the team reach the 2012 NBA Finals. After being dealt to the Rockets, he and the team were never able to make it past the Western Conference finals.
Just last year, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Harden with the expectation that he would help them win a league title. They came up short last season and are presently trying to simply reach the East’s top six seeds.
76ers fans can be demanding, which puts pressure on Harden to help the team win it all. Morey is certainly aware of that, but for now, he is basking in the glow of Harden’s solid debut.