The Brooklyn Nets have been playing unbelievable basketball as of late. After their win against the scrappy San Antonio Spurs, the Nets had won nine out of ten games (nine without Kevin Durant) by approximately 10 points. Along the way, they have beaten the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Los Angeles Clippers–all deep-playoff aspiring teams. The most essential cog of this success is not Kyrie Irving who has gone nuclear for 40 points during this stretch, but James Harden.
The Best Player Right now Could be James Harden
James Harden has been incredible averaging 27.3 points per game, 10.6 assists per game, and 9.6 rebounds per game. He has been able to facilitate and find wide open shooters with this elite fakes and driving ability. When the Nets need crucial scoring, Harden meticulously picks his spots, whether that is a 3-pointer or beating his player off the dribble to get to the basket. After being awarded the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award, it begs the question: is James Harden playing his best basketball yet?
Let’s take a look.
A More Efficient James Harden
Unlike when he was a member of the Houston Rockets, Harden’s shot attempts have declined. This is in part to playing with masterful scorers, Kyrie and KD, but it hasn’t tampered with his efficiency. During the last ten games, The Beard shot 49.1% overall, which is incredible for a high-volume guard, and 45.9% from deep, which is higher than his season and career averages, 38.4% and 36.4%, respectively. All these percentages come on almost four fewer shot attempts. There was a question of who would need to sacrifice their number of attempts and it seems Harden, who is also the primary point guard, has gladly relinquished his number of shots.
James Harden Over 4.5 3s in a Nets Win (5/1)? ✅ 💰
Kyrie Irving also went crazy, scoring 40 in Brooklyn's 136-125 victory over Sacramento (+4.5). 👀 pic.twitter.com/NgOObrq16g
— FOX Bet (@FOXBet) February 16, 2021
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At 6’5″ and 220 lbs., Harden is taller than the average point guard allowing him to see over the defense. This stretch has seen Harden dish out 11 or more assists in four out of six games. His scoring prowess forces the defenders to double team or bring help, allowing for lobs to DeAndre Jordan or overhead passes to 3-point sniper Joe Harris.
James Harden's passing is so satisfying
I can watch him pass the ball all day pic.twitter.com/PyXTiPvBal
— arian (@arxanii) February 16, 2021
While his stats are remarkable, his game improves when the game is on the line. Down 20 points against the Suns, Harden accounted for nine points and three assists in the fourth quarter, which included a late 3-pointer to give the Nets a lead they wouldn’t lose. After a missed tying attempt by the Suns, Harden hit two free throws to ice the game; and defended a Jae Crowder 3-point shot. These late-game heroics capped off the Nets’ biggest road comeback in franchise history.
JAMES HARDEN 🔥🔥🔥
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 17, 2021
James Harden’s Value
Since coming to the Nets, Harden has bought into the team’s title aspirations. He has provided the Nets with stability as Kyrie and KD, predominantly, have been sidelined with injuries or health protocols. If he continues this level of play with KD returning, the Nets will have a great chance of winning it all.
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