Brooklyn Nets star James Harden has taken on a slightly different role since joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last January. With the Houston Rockets, he was always the focal point of their offense and took countless shots every single game.
Now, Harden is the ultimate playmaker for the Nets and it's something he has taken in stride. Via SI's Michael Shapiro:
“There really wasn’t any adjustment. I still play how I play, but now I don’t have to shoot the ball so much. It’s really the best style for me, to be honest.
The Nets guard averaged 10.9 assists in 2020-21 for Steve Nash's team, and it's a role that Harden actually loved.
“Kevin (Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) can always go get a bucket, and, with me as a playmaker, I can think about how to get shooters involved, how to get bigs touches, how to create open shots,” he added.
“My main focus is trying to get everybody involved and have each guy make an impact on the game.”
Don't get it twisted, though. Harden is still an electrifying scorer, dropping 24.6 points last season. Injuries kept him sidelined for a short period, but he believes, just like everyone else in the Nets organization, that if this team can stay healthy, it's smooth sailing to an NBA title:
“At full strength, nobody can beat us. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
The Nets bowed out in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, with Harden playing through a bummed hamstring and Irving sidelined with an ankle injury. Hopefully, the Big 3 can stay on the floor and chase a ring in 2021-22.