6/19/21, 7:31 PM
Bottom Line: High risk of re-injury. Can play, but will have to limit himself. Expect his shooting and passing ability to result in respectable box scores, but expect him to be weak on defense and in transition.
Harden is playing through a hamstring injury that was actually a re-aggravation of the same injury that took him out of the end of the regular season earlier this year.
Unfortunately, we’re not likely to see him at 100% any time soon. The injury is at a high risk of getting worse if he over-exerts himself. That would mean missing games entirely. He’s been managing to play through it for now, but the careful observer can see he’s not himself.
The most glaring areas of deficiency for Harden are going to be on defense and on the fast break. Don’t expect him to be able to push the pace as a ball handler, and don’t be surprised if opponents try to exploit his inability to be explosive off of his injured leg on defense.
The good news for Harden is 2-fold. Firstly, he’s one of the most skilled offensive players the league has ever seen. With his shooting, passing, and court vision, he can definitely still put up some numbers. Those areas of his game should be less affected by the hamstring. Secondly, once the Nets hit the offseason, this should recover fully given time to rest, and we will expect him to return to the start of the next season without any long-term deficits related to the current injury.
We’re encouraged that he’s able to play at all without re-injuring himself, but it still remains a strong possibility if he tries to make explosive movements. Look for a limited version of Harden to still be reasonably effective for the rest of this postseason.
Image Source: Keith Allison, CC-BY-SA-2.0