James Harden asks for patience after struggling start with Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have gotten off to a rough start in the James Harden era, dropping to 0-3 after a 144-126 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, but Harden is worried about his critics, for now. 

Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Following a third straight loss to kickstart James Harden’s Los Angeles Clippers tenure, the former MVP isn’t panicking and is instead preaching patience. 

Harden doesn’t seem too concerned about his poor statistical showing. After a drawn-out and public feud with Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey, Harden headed to the Clippers without the benefit of a full pre-season ramp-up. NBA players, contrary to popular belief, play themselves into game shape. 

The pre-season doesn’t just provide players with physical preparation to perform at the highest level but also the mental reps to process the chaos on the court and build chemistry with new teammates. Unfortunately, with the way the Clippers are performing as Harden gets up to speed, the ten games Harden is asking for could dig them a dangerously deep hole after a promising start. 

James Harden’s introduction has sunk the Clippers

The Clippers, before introducing Harden into the lineup, were 3-2 and boasted impressive offensive and defensive ratings befit of a true contender. Their two losses were by five and two points, and their three wins were by 16, 40, and 12. The interjection of Harden was supposed to take the Clippers to new heights, and it has -- just in the opposite direction. 

Since Harden’s introduction into the Clippers lineup, they have been outscored by 39 points in three games, and their performance with Harden on the court has been utterly disastrous. In 96 minutes, the Clippers have a net rating of negative-18.3 with Harden on the court, and both their offensive and defensive ratings have been putrid, according to PBP Stats

Outlier 3-point shooting has made the Clippers look worse than they truly are, but Harden’s statistical output has been nowhere near what he provided over the previous three seasons. His shot volume is his lowest since his second season, and it has led to only 14.3 points per game and a greatly reduced free throw rate. Harden’s efficiency is at an all-time high, suggesting he may find another gear in a lower usage role, but he is producing far fewer assists without a drop in turnovers. 

James Harden isn’t wrong to ask for patience, but the games count the same in November as they do in March. The Clippers may end up being better by adding Harden, but a ten-game down period could cause irreversible damage to their playoff seeding.  

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