At this point, everyone is aware that the LA Clippers have not exactly had an easy time incorporating James Harden into the team's lineup. There have been conversations about sacrifice and who needs to take less shots, along with difficulties in making sure the ball finds the hands of the team's best player in crucial moments.
But there has been one particular factor that may be playing a big part in the Clippers not getting what they had been hoping for out of Harden so far: conditioning. He has begun a season out of shape in the past, and was quick to remark that he is not yet in optimal shape this season either.
When asked about the matter following LA's loss to Denver, Harden reminded reporters that he did not participate in training camp or preseason several weeks ago while he was still playing for the 76ers. "I'm still learning on the fly for a new team," said Harden. "Also, getting myself into James Harden shape and game shape is very important."
James Harden says he is still not in game shape
While this answer would certainly explain some of his and the team's struggles to start the year, his words are still a bit problematic. James Harden has been a member of the Clippers for over two weeks now and has played in five games, taking part in every known team practice as well. How much time does he need to get in game shape?
For that matter, why was he not in game shape to begin with? We know that the answer to that question likely lies in him not wanting to play for Daryl Morey and Philadelphia, and that is another conversation entirely.
But the question of when he will be fully ready remains. Perhaps things will truly turn a corner when Harden attains a level of conditioning he is comfortable with, but only time will tell.