Our exit interview series on the 2024 Clippers continues with the Clips’ big in-season acquisition, starting point guard James Harden.

Basic Information

Height: 6’6

Weight: 220 pounds

Position: Point Guard

Age: 34

Years in NBA: 15

Regular Season Stats: 16.6 points, 8.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 2.6 turnovers in 34.3 minutes per game across 72 games played (all starts) on 42.8/38.1/87.8 (6.8 3PA, 4.8 FTA attempts) shooting splits (61.2 True Shooting)

Postseason Stats: 21.2 points, 8.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in 40.3 minutes per game across six games played (all starts) on 44.9/38.3/90.6 shooting splits (7.8 3PA, 5.3 FTA) shooting splits (61.6 True Shooting)


James Harden, of course, wasn’t a Clipper to start the year. On his arrival, the expectations were simple – be the starting point guard, handle the ball so Paul George and Kawhi Leonard don’t have to, and add spacing with three-point shooting. While Harden is years past his prime, he was an All Star level player for the Sixers in his 1.5 years in Philadelphia, and the expectation was that he would play at a similar level for the Clippers.


Harden’s start with the Clippers was notoriously a bit rocky. Harden himself in November had fine albeit disappointing numbers, with 15.3 and 6.2 on a 63.9 True Shooting, but the lack of aggression and his uncertainty hurt the Clippers. That flipped in December, when Harden put together a monster 20 point, 5.2 rebound, 9.6 assist stretch with 66.1 True Shooting that catapulted the Clippers on their huge run. His scoring and usage dipped again in January, but his efficiency and assist numbers remained excellent as the Clippers continued on their torrid streak.

Harden’s season, like the Clippers, started to dip in February. Their defense, which had been falling, turned downright bad, and Harden’s slip from “fine” to “awful” was a big part of that. His scoring numbers and efficiency actually went up compared to January, but his assists dropped again as the Clippers’ oiled machine on offense turned more stagnant. Then, his scoring and efficiency plummeted in March, with Harden getting to the rim less and finishing worse when he did get there. With Kawhi Leonard out, the Clippers desperately needed a good James Harden, and he wasn’t there. In fact, in his five games in April, Harden averaged a mere 13 points per game on abysmal 49.9 True Shooting. Things were looking grim going into the playoffs.

Then, on a dime, things flipped. The rest Harden had down the stretch and before the playoffs definitely helped, as he was awesome in Game 1, helping the Clippers beat the Mavs without Kawhi Leonard. Harden was pretty good in Games 2 and 3 but not great, still showing up at least (more than Paul George in Game 3) but without the burst of Game 1. Then, Harden erupted in Game 4, scoring 33 points on 12-17 shooting while dishing 7 assists in the best playoff performance by a Clippers’ guard since the days of Chris Paul. The Mavs could not stop Harden, and the Clippers tied the series at 2-2.

That’s when things went downhill. Harden’s playoff demons re-emerged in Game 5, with a listless 7 point, 7 assist, 4 turnover showing being a major reason for the Clippers getting pummeled at home. Harden’s scoring efficiency remained poor in Game 6, with 16 points on 5-16 shooting, but his 13 assists to 1 turnover helped keep the Clippers in it for at least some of the game. Overall, while Harden wasn’t amazing writ large in the postseason, he had two great performances and three acceptable to good outings, which gave him the best grade of any Clipper. If only the teams other stars had been close to that.

Harden’s play continued to slip in 2024, with his 16.6 points per game being the lowest since his sophomore season way back in 2011. However, his playmaking and ability to run a competent, steady offense helped the Clippers significantly, and Harden actually adapted pretty well to playing off ball more in a lower usage role (also his lowest since 2011) by taking more catch-and-shoot threes. He didn’t receive almost any All-Star buzz, but I think he deserved the nod more than Paul George, and he was still right in that 30-40 range for best players in the NBA.

Future with Clippers

While James Harden is a free agent, unlike Paul George, there have been no rumblings of him going elsewhere. The list of teams who would pay Harden a bag might be just the Clippers (personally, I think he makes a lot of sense on the Magic), and he does not seem to want to go elsewhere. It seems very unlikely that Harden will walk in free agency, though there is an off chance that the Clippers low ball him too much and he heads out. All the signs are that he will return to the Clippers, probably on a deal between $30M and $40M for three seasons. That would keep him on team until Harden is nearly 38. It’s a risk, but Harden was good enough to warrant bringing him back at that price with the Clippers already in on Kawhi Leonard.

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