James Harden will have a freedom that he hasn't experienced since his NBA career started to take flight with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The addition of Chris Paul to this year's Houston Rockets will relieve some of the playmaking duties from Harden's shoulders, allowing him to spot up for more open jumpers, an activity he hasn't seen in a long while.
“It's unbelievable,” Harden told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan of his partnership with Paul. “I don't have to dribble, dribble, dribble. I can shoot it. Right now. Because I'm wide open. Catch and shoot. I haven't done that in five years.”
Paul has a knack for finding open shooters on the perimeter, a skill that can do wonders for a shooter like Harden, who has seen his three-point percentage decline vastly from his OKC days.
Harden has attempted more threes after every one of his last five seasons with the Rockets, ultimately making a lackluster 34.7 percent from deep in 9.3 attempts per game, topping Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, who teed up 8.8 per game at a more respectable 37.2 percent clip.
“It's gonna work,” said Harden, giddy from the notion of Paul as a finisher on the pick-and-roll, as a midrange shooter, as a three-point threat. “Chris is starting to understand what I like and what I don't like. Same with me. So later this season, when we're yelling at each other on the court, it's not because I'm mad at him or don't like him, it's because we're having honest communication.”
Head coach Mike D'Antoni will try to double Paul's three-point attempts this season, fully buying into the organizational bible of offensive efficiency by shooting threes and getting to the free-throw line.