We’re only four games into the 2021-22 season, but Brooklyn Nets star James Harden is not playing up to the lofty standards the perennial MVP candidate has set for himself over the years. Maybe we should not be surprised. While many of us (understandably) focused on the Kyrie Irving vaccination situation, or the potential max extension Harden ultimately decided not to sign, one storyline that slipped mostly under the radar was that of Harden’s health.

Recall, Harden left a game last March with hamstring tightness. The Nets took what they felt was a very cautious approach. But the issue evolved into a strain, which he then aggravated at different stages of the 2020-21 season. After returning to the lineup and balling out through the first round of the playoffs, Harden reaggravated the injury in the opening minutes of the second round. That left him hobbled during crucial second-round games.

Before this season started, we began to hear positive updates on the nine-time All-Star originally from Los Angeles.