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#pounditThursday, January 27, 2022

Should Nets be concerned about James Harden’s workload?

James Harden on the court

James Harden has long been one of the most NBA’s durable players, but he could be getting stretched to his limits this season.

After the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, Harden admitted that he is feeling gassed.

“Tired,” said Harden, per Nets writer Chris Milholen. “Exhausted. It’s been crazy just because of the COVID.”

Harden added that the Nets, who were coming off a road game against the Chicago Bulls the night before, landed around 5 AM on the morning of the Thunder game. Thus, Harden was not able to go to bed until 7 AM.

It has been a brutal stretch for the Nets, who played four games in five days, going from Brooklyn to Portland to Chicago and back to Brooklyn. Their fatigue was apparent as they got blown out by Oklahoma City 130-109. Harden shot just 7-for-22 from the field.

This season has also been particularly taxing for Harden, who is second on the team with 36 games played and 36.8 minutes per game. He missed time last month in health and safety protocols but has barely taken any games off for rest. With Kyrie Irving missing most of the season and still ineligible for home games, both Harden and Kevin Durant have been tasked with massive responsibilities for Brooklyn. For his part however, Durant has downplayed workload concerns (though he did sit out the Thunder game to rest).

StatMuse notes that Harden has played the most minutes of any NBA player over the last ten years with 27,320 (almost a thousand more than any other player). He also had a recent injury that took longer than anticipated to heal. While the Nets don’t really have much of a choice with their roster shortages due to COVID and other reasons, the burnout risk for Harden will be worth monitoring as the team moves towards and into the playoffs.

Photo: Feb 16, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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