If you were wondering how the Portland Trail Blazer star is doing in his return from surgery to repair a nagging ab injury that prematurely ended his campaign a season ago, Dame Time earned player of the week honors for the Western Conference, leading Portland to a 3-0 (now 4-0) record while tallying back-to-back 41-point games in the opening days of the year.
After going 1-for-8 from three on opening night in Sacramento, he’s 15-for-32 from distance over the past three games, including a signature, wrist-tapping, step-back triple over Lonnie Walker to put the Blazers ahead by 2 with a dozen or so ticks remaining in Sunday’s win against the Lakers.
SLIDE #5Player most likely to prompt an existential crisis from a teammate: James Harden
Like that friend who can get you to swallow, inhale, inject, or snort whatever drug they hand you, Daryl Morey has enabled James Harden once again. Among players with 75 or more touches, the Beard’s 5.7 seconds per touch is the fifth longest in the NBA behind Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Ja Morant, and Donovan Mitchell.
Nikola Jokic leads the league in touches, but his 2.64 seconds average is more than a full second less than anyone else in the top 10. Harden is No. 2 in touches, and he’s already had 97.8. That means out of the 192 minutes the 76ers have played, Harden has been dribbling between his legs for 9 minutes and 21 seconds of them. After 20 or so starts, he will have dribbled the ball for a full 48 minutes of game time.
Joel Embiid didn’t talk to the media after the second game of the season, and he’s been mopey even for him. Last year’s MVP runner-up is sandwiched above his former teammate, Ben Simmons, and below Anfernee Simons for total touches on the season, which is as alarming as it is depressing. Philly is 1-3, and we’re on pace for 1,573 “Embiid looks miserable” stories, and I can’t say I blame him.